San Diego Comic-Con has become so much more than just a comic book convention. But comic books remain the heart and soul of Comic-Con.
In addition to attendees being there to buy comic books, vendors flock to Comic-Con to sell their comic books as well.
That’s why participants in Comic-Con were shocked to find this notice waiting for them at the San Diego airport after Comic-Con.
— Adi Chappo (@adichappo) July 23, 2017
The TSA banned comic books from checked luggage for flights leaving San Diego after Comic-Con.
This is problematic in a few ways. First, attendees tend to purchase rare comic books that they are trying to keep in pristine shape. Yes, you can do with when you have a few comic books in your carry on–but remember, this is a convention.
People aren’t flying out to San Diego to purchase *one* comic book.
Second, while large vendors enter into freight shipping contracts, small vendors rely on their checked bags to get their wares to and from the convention.
This is especially problematic for independent comic book artists who are bringing their own (sometimes self-published) collections. These are usually packed into hard-cases, specially designed to make sure the books don’t get dinged up in transit.
This seemed too weird to be true but United Airlines confirmed the ban on Twitter:
The restriction on checking comic books applies to all airlines operating out of San Diego this weekend and is set by the TSA. ^MD
— United (@united) July 23, 2017
The strange part is–while United is directing everyone to TSA for more information, United is also the only airline I can find who is enforcing this. This does not mean it is the only airline. I just don’t see any outrage from people flying other airlines.
According to United, this restriction is for this weekend only and does not include books–just comic books.
— Amy, on lines @ SDCC (@spooloflies) July 23, 2017
Why ban comic books? According to someone on Twitter who claims to be former TSA (so take it with a grain of salt), the glossy pages of the comic book show up strangely on the x-ray machine and have to be individually searched. (It looks as if this person deleted their tweet–I can’t find it again)
I’ve found some evidence backing this up though, from a range of people complaining about the TSA telling them they had too many comic books in their bags.
TSA searched my luggage for having too many comic books. That’s a first.
— Lacy Wright (@LacyLewWright) January 10, 2017
So apparently a stack of comic books in your carry on will set off the @TSA‘s machine at which point they will go through each issue…
— Margaret (@EtoEWanders) November 22, 2016
One time TSA bent my comic books while searching my backpack because apparently nerdy lesbians are more dangerous than terrorists.
— Ga(rbage)bby (@tugboattragedy) May 6, 2016
Hey, @wilw have you heard of TSA unpacking your bag because your comic books might be weapons? Cuz that just happened to me. Lol. 😛
— Alan Kistler@SDCC (@SizzlerKistler) April 16, 2012
If this is true, it sounds as if the ban is so they do not have to use extra TSA manpower during the weekend (or perhaps, they suddenly found themselves overwhelmed and issued this suddenly).
It does not surprise me that glossy magazines can set off the scanners. A lot of things can. My body glitter set off the detectors. So it is not something specific to comic books.
I have not found an official TSA statement on this.
People tweeting the TSA directly have not received a reply as far as I can tell.
United said TSA’s ban is for the “weekend”. Since Comic-Con is ongoing throughout the entire weekend, a lot of people (especially vendors) fly back on Monday. I’m interested to see whether or not people run into issues today.
(Please note, I wrote this article two hours before publication, so there may be an update from the TSA by the time it goes live. If I have wifi connection at that time and there is an update, I’ll put it in the post.)