My pal Ross Mayfield was told by a TSA screener that effective April 14, American fliers are only allowed a maximum of two books on flights.
En route from San Jose to Phoenix, I was told by a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) screener about a ban on lighters (cough) starting April 14th, but the book allowance has been cut from 4 to 2…
I must highlight that this could be bad information and hearsay. I can't confirm this with the DHS or TSA prohibited items list. However, the TSA list notes it's own inaccuracy — and the discretion of the screener to interpret policy…
Update: My guess here is that the screener has confused the regulation of matchbooks with the regulation of books — and, as Ross points out, the screener's determinations are final: "To ensure everyone's security, the screener may determine that an item not on the prohibited items chart is prohibited. In addition, the screener may also determine that an item on the permitted chart is dangerous and therefore may not be brought through the security checkpoint."
So while you're unlikely to find your screener forcing you to take a book or two out of your carryon, anyone unlucky enough to get this guy is gonna find the Federal government taking an unhealthy interest in her reading materials.
I've written to Ross for clarification and I'll post it when I get it.
Update 2: In comments on his blog, Ross confirms that the screener was definitely talking about actual books — the kind you read — and not matchbooks.
Update 3:Ross adds, "While this personal account may bring to mind book burning, the screener made separate points about regulating matchbooks when examining my lighter and books when examining my advance copy of The Only Sustainable Edge. I was of sound mind and body, assume he was too. One commentor on my blog is a pilot and is looking into it. Regardless, I take comfort in Alfred Whitney Griswold's quote: 'Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail.'"