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Bottled rage

ON THE SPOT

July 27, 2008|Catharine Hamm

Question: I want to know if we can carry our own sealed bottled water through airport security checkpoints yet. I really resent having to pay $3 for water at the airport. How can we get this policy changed?

Brenda Streater

Answer: When I received this e-mail, I thought to myself, "Yeah! This is really ridiculous. Why should I be the victim of price-gouging swindlers charging me to slake the thirst I work up running the gantlet of stupid security measures imposed by our government?"

And then I went back and started reading the coverage of the trials of the men accused of plotting to blow up transatlantic flights, and I was ashamed I would risk national security for a bottle of Evian.

Bottom line: You can't take even a sealed water bottle through airport security. Don't even think about it. But you don't have to pay $3 for a bottle of water. More on that in a minute.

Let's first recall why liquids were banned. In August 2006, British authorities arrested eight men whom they suspected to be part of a plot to detonate bombs they smuggled on board in drink containers. Instead of that liquid, they would have filled the bottle with substances that included Tang breakfast drink and food coloring and detonated it with the help of the flash from a disposable camera and something called hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, a substance of choice among suicide bombers.

Three of the men admitted in court that they wanted to cause explosions, but they said that it was just a scare tactic.

It worked. I was scared. Though no one would ever accuse me of being lionhearted, I was willing to forfeit the water bottle after reading that one of the alleged plotters said in a taped diatribe that he wanted to kill people to take "revenge for the acts of the USA, the British and the Jews in the Muslim lands."

So I'll continue to take my empty water bottle through security and fill it in the ladies' room in the "sterile area." I'll slip a Propel Powder Packet into my carry-on, and I'll use that to add a little flavor to the water. (I won't fill the bottle from the tap in the aircraft lavatory because that water isn't always safe to drink.)

And I'll curse the jerks who make travel more difficult for the rest of us -- and I'm not talking about any government agency, for a change.

What I won't do is write my congressional representative asking to have this policy reversed. Better safe, I think, than becoming a supernova at 35,000 feet.

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Have a travel dilemma? Write to travel@latimes.com.

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