Samurai Sword Umbrella & Airport Security Theatre

Today was the first time anyone has ever stopped me at airport security with this:


“You see, it resembles a sword.” – Airport Security

To give you some idea, I’ve had this umbrella for at least three years. I’ve been carrying it in my backpack – sometimes internally, but for the last six months, externally. It fits nicely in the side pocket of my backpack and doesn’t bump things when it’s carried externally.


“Sir, you must understand you can’t take swords on the plane.”

“Well, what about umbrellas?|

I have traveled through airports in six countries (the USA, UK, Germany, France, Norway, and Cyrpus) in the last six months. My trip to Cyprus was last Wednesday. I left through Heathrow just as I am doing now.

Today was the first day anyone even thought to take a second look.

The initial spot was done by the belt guy. He asked to put the umbrella through separately, “in case it was a sword”. I pulled it from the backpack and said, “Sure, put it through separately, in case it is an umbrella.” He said “Sir…” and then proceeded to trail off.

After it went through, he called over another woman. She proceeded to open the umbrella.

“Sir, I’m going to have to call my supervisor.”

I said, “Sure, go ahead.”

He came over, inspected the umbrella, and took me for some kind of cheeky fellow, which, to be fair, is particularly accurate.

“Sir, do you know why she called me over here? Your umbrella, you see, it resembles a sword.”

I responded politely, “I understand. It also resembles an umbrella.”

He said, “Sir, you must understand that you can’t take swords on the plane.”

I responded politely with “Well, what about umbrellas?”

He continued, “Sir, surely you must understand that with this umbrella resembling a sword that we’d have to take extra precaution.”

I responded, “I understand that. What I don’t understand is that why in the last six months – at least – no one else has thought to take those same precautions, and even though I flew through this airport exactly one week ago with the same umbrella that no one batted an eye.”

His response was a bit more aggravated, but still restrained, “I don’t know sir. All I can say is that we have to be cautious about things that resemble swords.”

He handed it back to me, and I took it, and responded, “What about things that resemble umbrellas?”

At that I turned and walked away.

Polite antagonism for its own sake? Sure. It’s a give-and-take world – one step towards the world of the glorious agorist future, perhaps.