Your bottle of water makes it through airport security?

Remember the days when you could actually take a bottle of water through airport security? Your hand lotion, hairspray, and mouthwash were okay too, even if you had the big bottle. All that changed in 2006, when a scare related to liquid explosives caused airports around the world to restrict passengers to carrying a small amount of liquid (3 ounce bottles in the U.S.) through security. Consumers couldn't even take beverages with them, being forced instead to buy an overpriced drink on the other side of security if they were thirsty.

The Transportation Security Administration says it's working to change the rules to allow passengers to carry full-size bottles of liquids through security, so long as they removed them from their carry-ons and put them through X-ray machines separately. (Just like the current requirement to put laptop computers through separately.)

A spokesperson for TSA says that the rule should be changed sometime in 2009, but at the latest, 2010. How hard can it possibly be to change the rule and why is it taking so long? The TSA says that X-ray machines have to be upgraded so they can tell the difference between harmless liquids and explosives.

Air travel has gotten so bothersome, that this small change isn't likely to make me a much happier flier. The TSA says this rule change would help speed up the time spent passing through security, but I'm pretty skeptical. The amount of time spent taking all these liquids out of a suitcase can't possibly be less than the time now spent taking mini bottles out of the carry-on. Flying commercially is getting more expensive and more inconvenient. Don't pin your hopes on a rule change like this to ease the hassle one bit.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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