Meetings

Conference Souvenir Causes TSA Headaches for Sorority Members

As Delta Sigma Theta members were leaving Houston following their annual meeting last week, they ran into airport security problems for an unexpected reason: A large souvenir booklet apparently looked like an explosive on the TSA's scanners.

Take roughly 13,000 attendees, a large piece of conference swag, and an international airport, and the end result might be a recipe for inconvenience.

The flight is gone. We won’t be leaving until 9:30 tonight not to get into Indianapolis until 1 o’clock in the morning and I have to be at work at six so I’m not happy.

That was the situation that members of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority found themselves in late last month, when a large souvenir booklet, carried by many of the attendees, appeared suspicious to security screeners. That forced the Transportation Security Administration at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport to hand-check hundreds of pieces of luggage.

“Apparently at the convention there were items they were given, which they had packed in their bags,” airport spokesman Bill Begley told the Houston Chronicle. “And as they were going through a check in process prompted a secondary search by the TSA.”

As a result, many attendees heading home after a successful conference—as well as people who had no ties to the meeting—were forced to stand in lengthy lines as the TSA’s security personnel checked out the full-color booklets by hand, just in case. Nothing sinister was found, but plenty of people missed their flights because of the unexpected wait.

“The flight is gone. We won’t be leaving until 9:30 tonight not to get into Indianapolis until 1 o’clock in the morning and I have to be at work at six so I’m not happy,” passenger Cassandra Tomes told KHOU of the situation.

Tomes added that the TSA had told her that the thick, glossy color booklet “appears to look like some sort of plastic explosive” in the scanners.

The unusual situation marred an otherwise successful annual meeting for the nation’s largest historically black sorority, which filled the George R. Brown Convention Center for a solid week last month. The event featured a homecoming of sorts for U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, a longtime Delta Sigma Theta member, who spoke to the group.

Delta Sigma Theta members and other travelers stand in a lengthy airport security line on Thursday. (courtesy KHOU)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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