Why You Have to Take Your Shoes Off at Airports - Shoe Bomb (2001)

On December 22, 2001—just months after the 9/11 attacks—Richard Reid boarded American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami with homemade bombs hidden in his shoes.

During the flight, Reid tried to detonate his shoes, but he struggled to light the fuse. Crew members and passengers noticed and restrained him.

The plane diverted to Logan International Airport in Boston, and Massachusetts State Police officers took Reid into custody. Reid told FBI agents that he made the shoes himself.

This is the pair of shoes [Richard] Reid—also known as the “shoe bomber”—tried to detonate. FBI bomb techs determined that the shoes contained about 10 ounces of explosive material.


@jordanlund@lemmy.world avatar

And yet we can keep our underwear on…



Don’t give TSA any ideas. They’re not all idiots working for a Federal jobs program; some of them are idiots with power in a Federal jobs program.


Moral of the story: if you want something to reliably blow up, use an e-match


It’s notable that this happened ONE TIME EVER IN ALL OF HISTORY and suddenly hundreds of millions needs to suffer for security theater.


I don’t think you need to take off your shoes in Europe airports.


Not all the time but you may be asked to. Had it happen a few times over the years.

setsneedtofeed, (edited )
@setsneedtofeed@lemmy.world avatar

I know that Israel is not exactly in moral good graces right now, but I was always impressed by their airport security’s efficiency.

They had a long weaving line where they’d walk sniffing dogs and have spotters to pull people out for in-depth screening. If you weren’t pulled out you just went through a metal detector and bags went in a basic x-ray.

Very quick moving lines and none of theatrical humiliation of removing shoes and belts.


Lived in Latin America for years. Pretty much the same there. Just be patient and go through line and you’re good.


One of the key reasons for Israeli airport security efficiency is racial profiling though (see the Ben Gurion airport section of This page for details).


Its primarily done via racial profiling. And given all weve learned recently about their attitudes toward brown people, it makes me question how much of the data theyve released is actually accurate, and not just “This guy was definitely going to blow up a plane, and we know this because hes from Gaza and lives next door to a guy capable of making a bomb”.


They also do it by religion apparently. There was a video on Youtube of a Canadian Jewish girl who turned Muslim that recounts the difference of how it went at the airport. Apparently they put a sticker on your passport and if the number starts with a 6 you get extra scrutiny.

Mint_Raccoon avatar

There was also Philippines Airlines 434 where components for a bomb were hidden in the culprit's shoes and then assembled on the plane. The plane managed to land safely, but one passenger was killed by the explosion and a number of others were injured.


1 shoe bomb happens and literally everyone has to be checked for decades.

Hundreds of mass shootings happen and there’s just nothing we can do.

Police murder unarmed citizens and we rarely do anything to fix it.

Homelessness is growing and we can’t possibly find housing.


The answer to your unspoken question is money.

Decades of checking shoes is decades of money in the hands of the few.


I haven’t taken my shoes off in like 2 years and 8 flights. This isn’t even a thing anymore in most airports.


It’s all dependent on the TSA agents. They’re idiots with power to their heads. They make up rules on the spot and you can’t do shit about it.

I fly just about every month to different locations and it’s completely random what you need to take off and take out of your bag.


So true! In spite of this level of control, when tested by the fed I think something like 48 or 49 out of 50 “bombs” (obviously not real bombs) made it through TSA security checks.


And they will act personally offended if you don’t know automatically what they want.


The last time I flew was 5 years ago. Even then one of the airports didn’t require me to take off my shoes. Now if only they could get rid of the 3-1-1 rule.


The 3-1-1 rule is way more annoying. I actually don’t mind taking off my shoes, getting ready to travel makes me anxious and that anxiety makes my feet sweat and stink. It’s kind of pleasant to get an excuse to air them out… sorry everybody…


This depends on state. In Miami, they literally SCREAMED at me when I bent down to take my shoes off, and in Seattle, they were completely and utterly (like personally) offended that I didn’t automatically take them off.


I almost always have to take off my shoes, even when others do not. I’m not sure, but I think if your feet are bigger than the yellow footprint marks they have you stand on, it increases the likelihood of them searching your shoes.

Just last year in Seoul I had a security guy chase me down like 5min after getting through security. He had me take off my shoes and then he just wacked them on the ground a bunch like he was playing drums. I gotta admire the commitment though, don’t think I’d be investigating via ground slam If I thought a shoe contained explosives.

stoly, (edited )

That was racism you experienced there. Also was seemingly an idiot.


That was racism you experienced there.

I don’t think so, I was in Korea and I’m of Korean descent… I’m not fully Korean, so it’s possible. But I generally just look like a larger than average Korean person.

Also was seemingly an idiot.

Idiot or just an idiotic dedication to their job, in Korea the two can be hard to delineate a lot of the time.


I fly like 20 times a year and I think the US airports I frequent still require it? I have precheck and whatever but I occasionally hear TSA saying not to remove shoes when things are backed up.

Which is very funny to me. We all know it’s pointless, and they skip it when the lines are too long. Hopefully you’re right and it’s truly being phased out


I mean there are a ton of airports, I believe You’ve run into it. I just didn’t think it really was around all that much. ATL, PWM, DUL haven’t had me take them off in forever 🤷‍♂️


You take your shoes off? I only got called out because i left my Headphones in my backpack.
Most Airport security is theater anyways.


That guy was a dumbass. I’d be surprised if it did more than bust up his feet.


The podcast You’re Wrong About just did an episode on this: buzzsprout.com/…/14538729-the-shoe-bomber-with-mi…


No, we take our shoes off for security theater.

You want actual security? Have trained agents who observe all the people. Instead, we have shlubs sitting by monitors that they don’t watch.


They don’t want actual security. They want perceived terror and a populace that is used to being forced to do uncomfortable things that they know are pointless.


Covid proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. I’m old enough to remember the manufactured hysteria over swine flu, and SARS. It’s like they kept trying every ten years or so and finally found a populous where a majoritt would buy into that horseshit.


OK boomer


Exactly. Just have skilled people talk to people.


But you gotta train and pay skilled people…that’s not compatible with the stated objectives.


I traveled recently and was surprised to find I had inadvertently got a pocket knife through security. Apparently forgot to take it out of my bag. TSA did not catch it.


Happened to me too. It was in my laptop bag, and nobody cared. But the bottle of water is a massive problem


They caught a credit card knife I had left in my wallet forgotten about and made me throw it out this was years ago and I have yet to get another credit card knife because it was a gift lol


Credit card… knife?


Yeah it’s a small flat knife like a pocketknife like small flat swiss army but with only a knife attachment and it unfolds like oragami into a thin rectangle meant to fit in wallets’ card flaps or wherever else cards go but when using it you fold it up into a small knife blade and a handle for it I mean it’s like for tiny things like cutting packages open or whatever people use small swiss army knives for. If you seriously tried to use it even remotely violently or in a threatening manner at most you will give someone a small cut like a gnarly papercut and more likely you’d just be thrown in a loony bin lol but TSA has its rules God forbid I have that on me on the flight along with a large shampoo bottle and liquids brought from home that’s straight to jail

@setsneedtofeed@lemmy.world avatar

That’s pretty cool, had no idea that existed!

@setsneedtofeed@lemmy.world avatar

The multitool parts at that price were low quality, but a knife in wallet is handy. I did like that kit when it came outs Gerber and I think other brands now make just a knife card.


Victorinox is making multitool cards too.

I never used one but going by the brand reputation they should be high quality


This happened to me too several years ago, but apparently there had just been some type of attempted attack with those a few months prior in Belgium and they were a restricted weapon in canada. I did end up getting on the plane but not before being read my rights by some cops and given a very stern talking to. And being shamed for not watching the news lmao.


The one I had was tiny and flimsy I mean basically only for opening packages or cutting like paper and cardboard small stuff I imagine in the attempted attack you mentioned theirs was more beefy or something because mine was like a toy or souvenir literally it was corporate branded bs lol

emeralddawn45, (edited )

Ah I mean yeah mine had like a real 1.5 inch blade and was pretty sharp, and the plastic casing around it could like fold down into a handle. It was really cool actually, but I got it off some Chinese website for like $2 years before and it literally was forgotten in my wallet for like 3 years. At least until it seemed to be taking a long time for him to xray my bag and I saw him call someone else over, then it came rushing back in a wave of dread lol.


Something similar happened to me. I accidentally left a Victorinox Swiss Card in my wallet when I went traveling. They only flagged it at the airport on the way back. Security made me throw out the tiny scissors because they were longer than 2 inches but let me keep the knife part. It was absurd.

@Zak@lemmy.world avatar

Interestingly, most airports in Europe do not routinely make people take their shoes off. The way the TSA sticks to that policy implies they should have planes dropping out of the sky on a weekly basis.


Swede here, I have only had to remove my shoes once when going through security, it was an airport in the UK, and I was randomly selected (I look like a Swede)


In uk airports I only take them off if they’re particularly metallic and I think they’ll trigger the metal detector


Have you tried not looking Swedish?


Don’t shame them for their debilitating meatball addiction.

Synthuir, (edited )
  • Sweating lingonberry sauce *
  • All
  • Subscribed
  • Moderated
  • Favorites
  • forgottenweapons@lemmy.world
  • cisconetworking
  • DreamBathrooms
  • cubers
  • magazineikmin
  • everett
  • InstantRegret
  • Youngstown
  • mdbf
  • slotface
  • rosin
  • thenastyranch
  • kavyap
  • GTA5RPClips
  • modclub
  • JUstTest
  • osvaldo12
  • tester
  • ethstaker
  • Durango
  • ngwrru68w68
  • khanakhh
  • normalnudes
  • anitta
  • provamag3
  • tacticalgear
  • Leos
  • megavids
  • lostlight
  • All magazines