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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Is the TSA Really Banning Coca-Cola “Thermal Detonator” Souvenirs?

by Ray Keating
August 29, 2019

Is all of this talk about the TSA banning Coca-Cola “thermal detonator” bottles – from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World – in airline carry-on and checked baggage just some kind of nefarious plot by the Galactic Empire or the First Order? More realistically, is it true or just bad reporting?

The story was first run by the Orange County Register, and has been picked up by others. But the idea that the TSA actually is actually banning these souvenirs seems, at best, a stretch.

Consider, for example, what the Orlando Sentinel reported on August 28:

       When contacted Wednesday, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which handles security at airports, would not definitely say whether the soda cans are banned from carry-on or checked bags.
       “TSA continues to review this issue,” said Thomas Kelly Jr. in a statement. "Officers will maintain the discretion to prohibit any item through the screening checkpoint if they believe it poses a security threat.”

Chris Lucas, author of Top Disney (see DisneyBizJournal’s review of Top Disney) and an expert on many things Disney, isn’t buying into the TSA ban story, and he makes a strong case. He told me:

“All [the TSA] said in their official statement was that they are, of course, always cautious when it comes to something that looks like an explosive device, but it’s left up to the individual agents at airports to determine whether these bottles are a threat. That’s why 99% of them have gotten through, even in carry-on bags... TSA gate agents with common sense recognize that they are just harmless souvenir Coca-Cola bottles with a paper wrapper and plastic cap that makes them look like a movie prop. These same exact bottles, decorated as Christmas ornaments or baseballs, have been allowed on board planes in the past with no problems. As long as they are empty of liquid, they are deemed safe to travel. The media is blowing a non-story out of proportion.”

Lucas is always a rational voice, and his points here appear to be spot-on correct. 

(By the way, check out DisneyBizJournal’s report when these cool beverage containers were announced.)

What’s perhaps most striking is how many “news” outlets simply jump on a story by another outlet, and do little additional investigating or reporting to assess the story’s accuracy. I wrote a weekly column for newspapers for some 20 years, and while there always have been problems, the news business has suffered a decline in quality reporting in recent times.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

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