Janet Kwak, Rodney Danson
Passengers in some airports are being asked to hand over drinks they've bought inside the airport terminal for additional testing. That's raised concerns from those who question whether the practice is an overreach. Janet Kwak reports from LAX for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on July 13, 2012.
TSA employees at airports this summer have been checking beverages purchased on the other side of security, in the boarding area.
"I do feel like it is going a little bit too far," according to passenger, Ashley Nathanson. "It seems a little unnecessary."
Security agents don't touch the drink, or make the passenger throw it away, but a test strip is held over an open cup or container.
NBC4 asked TSA what exactly they look for, but they didn't give a direct answer. Instead they referred to their website which states: "These additional random tactics, such as gate screening, increase security by making it truly unpredictable."
"They're been opaque about why they're doing this," according to aviation attorney, Ronald Goldman.
The random checks may be aimed at potential terrorists trying to bypass standard screening, Goldman said, adding that the drink-tests may create their own "dangers."
"Whether it be racial profiling or ethnic profiling, there's the danger that what they're really doing is profiling the public coming through," according to Goldman.
But TSA says testing drinks at the gate is nothing new. They've been doing it since 2007.
"Everything is so random, and it's random to the point where it's very contrived now," observes passenger, John Bruno.
The TSA emphasizes the drink tests are just an additional security net, adding that they don't happen every day at every airport.