Airport security confiscates flier's car key as 'prohibited item'

Interesting exerpt:
"Paperwork, of course, was required. His driver's license and other identification papers were photocopied."
Since when do security agents record personal information at a
screening checkpoint?
Maybe because they are going to send this guy's keys back to him in the mail? Or maybe this guy's name is going to be put on a watch list now?
(Doesn't Volkswagon also have "switchblade" type keys?)
-----------------------------------
Put Down Your Key and No One Will Be Hurt http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/21/business/21road.html ? By JOE SHARKEY Published: June 21, 2005
AFTER passing through security at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recently, Nathan Rau noticed something odd - stuffed animal puppets, actually - affixed to two electronic wands used for body scans on passengers chosen for more intensive secondary screening.
"They told me they use the covered wands to screen young children," he said. "They said it makes the child feel a little more relaxed during the process."
Screeners at Minneapolis are using their heads, Mr. Rau decided.
Mr. Rau, a 31-year-old Minneapolis lawyer, has a fairly straightforward approach to evaluating airport security procedures. "I'll give praise where it's due, but not where it's not," Mr. Rau said.
Praise is due to the screeners in Minnesota, he said. But not for the screeners at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, who recently confiscated his car key as a prohibited item.
"I'm leaving Dallas on a Sunday and at security it's the usual stuff - shoes off, laptop out. My carry-on bag goes through the X-ray machine and I hear the infamous 'bag check!' " Mr. Rau recalled.
Here we go, he thought. "A screener says, 'Sir, is this your bag?' And I say, 'Yeah, and I need a private room if you're going to go through it,' " he recalled telling the screener.
Mr. Rau explained: "As an attorney, I carry documents, and because of the nature of what I do - I do intellectual property law - opening them up in a public place could have repercussions for myself or for my clients."
He was told private rooms were for personal screening, not for screening bags. That was not the case in Minneapolis, on the rare occasions when Mr. Rau said he was randomly selected for a secondary screening. "In Minneapolis, if you ask, they always give you a private room and they're nice about it," he said.
At the Dallas checkpoint, the contents of his bag were dumped on the table. "They pull out my car key," he said.
"What's this?" an inspector asked.
"My car key," Mr. Rau said.
Mr. Rau drives an Audi. Audis now come with stylish ignition keys designed to house the key inside a holder, preventing rips and wear on pocket liners. You push a button on a flat two-inch shaft and the key slides out.
As he demonstrated it, Mr. Rau could see the word forming in the minds of the screeners, now three, on his case: switchblade.
"Now the bells are ringing," he said. After running the key through the X-ray machine three times, the security committee reached a conclusion. "Well, sir, that's a switchblade style, and that's a prohibited item," Mr. Rau said he was told. "We're going to have to confiscate that."
Paperwork, of course, was required. His driver's license and other identification papers were photocopied.
"And of course, I didn't have my car keys," he said. Luckily, he keeps a spare in a little magnetized box under his car. But, it cost $300 to replace the key at the dealer, who must add a computer code for a specific car.
He was carrying his house key at the time. In comparison with the flat Audi key, "the house key looks like a saw blade," said Mr. Rau, who first described the incident anonymously on www.flyertalk.com, a frequent-flier forum.
On its Web site, www.tsa.gov, the Transportation Security Administration has posted a list of items you are not permitted to take on an airplane, in both checked bags and carry-ons. But the list is not "intended to be all-inclusive and is updated as necessary," the T.S.A. says, adding, "To ensure everybody's security, the screener may determine that an item not on this chart is prohibited."
Mr. Rau said, "That is the ultimate out - it's totally at their discretion."
Mr. Raus said of his Dallas-Fort Worth experience: "They were not ultra-rude about it. But you ever get the feeling you're just banging your head against a wall?"
Yes, we get that feeling frequently, his fellow business travelers will agree. Last week, the Business Travel Coalition, in a survey of both individual travelers and corporate travel managers, found that "inconsistency among airports was the No. 1 most troubling aspect of the airport security process."
That survey, which also elicited opinions about screening in general and about a proposed registered-traveler program that would expedite screening for those who registered personal information and possibly fingerprints in advance, is available at http://btcweb.biz .
Incidentally, it is not clear to me yet whether other Audi drivers have had ignition keys confiscated at other airports. Telephone calls seeking comment from a spokeswoman at Audi of America headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., were not returned.
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snipped-for-privacy@Guy.com (Fly Guy) wrote in

Since Audi and VW are made by the same company and most VWs are slightly downscale Audis, I'd bet the keys are identical; the description in the article matched my VW Passat key.
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Bert Hyman | St. Paul, MN | snipped-for-privacy@iphouse.com

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Bert Hyman wrote:

$300 seems a bit excessive for a key.
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Maybe the local dealer for him is more than typically expensive. Many newer cars have keys that require the car to be programmed to recognize the chip in the key, which adds to the cost of making the key and reduces the competition from non-dealers.
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Had a Jaguar key collected at Logan (Boston). Key came out of the fob at the push of a button. $300 not bad for an Audi key. Jag key is $350. Includes anti-theft, lock/unlock, and trunk open. Thankfully Logan had a system where I could mail the key back to myself and I had a spare key in my checked luggage. Kind of tough when keys to expensive imports are considered to be weapons. BTW, was in uniform (USMC Offier) at the time of confiscation. Paul
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snipped-for-privacy@sonic.net (Timothy J. Lee) wrote:

Do these encoded keys actually keep car thieves from stealing your car, or are they just a way for the dealers to make money?
(On the morning of 9/11/2001, when I realized it was a terrorist attack, I thought to myself: "Here comes the police state.")
To reply, please remove one letter from each side of "@" Spammers are VERMIN. Please kill them all.
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As far as I know, you don't need the dealer to program a key. My 2001 A4 manual tells you how to do it. I had to reprogram the key when I changed the battery in it.
Spammers are VERMIN. Please kill them all.
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snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net (mrtravel) wrote in

Sure, but there's no other way to get one but from a dealer, so they've got you.
I'd guess that replacing any "smart" key would be similarly expensive.
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Bert Hyman | St. Paul, MN | snipped-for-privacy@iphouse.com

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Bert Hyman wrote:

My Infiniti dealer wanted about $140 for a lost key (with programming), but that included the lost remote as well.
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mrtravel wrote:

Hey it's an audi. As I remember it's about $50 to get a volvo key. Takes a while though.
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Bert Hyman wrote:

It also matches the current keys for Volvos & Alfas. Probably most of the modern cars. Strangely it is a security thing.
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Frank F. Matthews wrote:

Loads of cars in the UK now come with those style keys - VW, Audi, BMW, Citroen, Porsche, Land Rover / Range Rover to mention the few that I know about!
How the hell is that type any more dangerous than any other type of key?! In fact, I would have thought it was less dangerous because if you intended to stab someone with it, it would fold back on itself!
Matt.
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Matthew Maddock wrote:

It's not any more dangerous. Thus the story is about silly TSA idiocy. However, as II remember, the key locks open and you push a button to permit it to fold shut.
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Hmmm, interesting.... I have flown quite a bit since I bought my Audi - and have even been through DFW - with no issues. I guess in the future I'll carry my spare key (which has no 'fob') or even the plastic key, and lock the fob in the car.....
Dan D '04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6 Central NJ USA
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I've never had a problem with them wanting to confiscate my Audi key. But I did have another problem with it. I have it on a keychain which has a pretty good sized chunk of silver on it:
http://www.tiffany.com/images/products/zoom_images/14485066_xl.jpg
Since its too thick for the Xray to see through, every other time they'd want to check my bag until they found it. Once I figured out what was going on, in the 100+ flights I've flown since then I always take it out of my bag and send it through the Xray separately along with my phone, laptop, etc. They never look twice at the Audi key attached to it. So maybe those with Audi keys should try that, since when you get "selected", they never pay much attention to the small items you throw in the tray, they want to dig around in your carry on and examine the contents of every little pocket, even the ones only big enough to hold a few business cards!
Another idea might be to send your keys through the Xray with the key out, so it is obvious that it is a car key. They won't think of it as a switch blade if they first see it with the key out, it is seeing it with the key in and being apparently surprised to find there's a key inside that makes them think of a switch blade.
Or maybe AoA needs to educate the idiots in charge of TSA so they will send a letter out to all the airports telling them not to confiscate car keys, even if they can operate like a switchblade. Wait until they realize that a credit card with one edge sharpened can slit someone's throat far more efficiently than either a nail clipper or an Audi key could kill, and they'll start wanting us to fly with credit cards in checked baggage!
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Fly Guy wrote:

More likely the latter.
My DH flies often for work and one time they said they found explosives or something on one of his bags. He had no idea how, unless it was fertilizer from the garage, when he set his bag down, or from the back of my car from the bag riding in it. They did the same thing - made him fill out a shitload of paperwork and photocopied his DL. He gets harassed all the time at check points anyway - it may just have been another incident of the same.
-L.
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Makes me wonder just what they thought this guy was gonna do.
"Ok everybody, I'm taking over this plane. Anybody tries to stop me and I'll scratch you with this fancy key."
Kneejerk reactionary dimwits. I also said, "Hello Police State" on 9/11.
:-(

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