It looks like the SmarteCarte folks are capitalizing on the TSA's safety regulations that ban lighters, makeup, liquids, gels, knives and scissors. Recently I was at an airport that had a self-serve "Mailsafe Express" kiosk which (for a fee, of course) lets you safely divest yourself of potentially unsafe materials while ensuring you're eventually reunited with them.
This kiosk was located after the security checkpoint, which means by the time you encounter it you basically have no choice but to cough up the dough to use it, or surrender your contraband to the TSA.
Here's how it works: after the TSA discovers you're carrying a few extra ounce of hair gel, they escort you to the kiosk where you put your banned items in a small padded plastic envelope. You then select whether you wish to have the items held at the aiport ($9.99) or mailed to you (up to $45.00 if you're sending a lighter overseas).
$45.00 to mail a Bic?
Anyway, after addressing the envelope and swiping your credit card you're directed to drop the envelope through the slot below the screen. (The sign above the slot reads, "Do Not Force Items Through The Slot!")
Oh, and just in case the entire process hasn't humiliated you enough, a video camera embedded in the kiosk (visible just above the screen) records the entire transaction for your "safety." As if you hadn't just passed through a security check that x-rayed, metal-detected and spectrum-analyzed everything in your possession.
On a related note, you can check to see if you're in the NSAT&T database of potential terrorists.
Copyright © 2014 by Kim Moser (email)
Last modified: Fri 11 May 2007 12:05:20