New Super-Sized Swiss Army Knife Is a Reminder That Airports Could Profit From Forgetful Travelers

Illustration for article titled New Super-Sized Swiss Army Knife Is a Reminder That Airports Could Profit From Forgetful Travelers
Image: Victorinox

Although nowhere near as massive as Wenger’s Swiss Army Knife Giant that famously packed 87 implements into a seven-pound tool, Victorinox’s new 73-function Swiss Champ XXL will still stretch your pocket to its breaking point. It comes with a price tag that will break any forgetful owner’s heart the day the TSA has to confiscate it, but it got me wondering why airports haven’t started offering obscenely expensive shipping services at security checkpoints.

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The new Swiss Champ XXL isn’t the largest multitool that Victorinox currently offers, but it strikes a fair balance between extreme functionality and portability, measuring in at about 3.6-inches long, and weighing in at 12.5 ounces—about the same weight as a regular-sized can of Campbell’s soup.

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Image: Victorinox

Among its 73 functions listed on Victorinox’s website, the Swiss Champ XXL includes such unusual implements as a pharmaceutical spatula, a chisel, and a magnifying glass, as well as a host of more traditionally useful tools like screwdrivers, blades, saws, scissors, and even an LED flashlight. It’s a more practical version of Wenger’s Swiss Army Knife Giant which you can’t actually buy anymore because back in 2005 Victorinox acquired its rival and as of 2013 it no longer produces any pocket knives or multitools with the Wenger branding. It hasn’t given up the pursuit of putting an entire toolbox in a pocket, however.

Not surprisingly, the well-equipped Swiss Champ XXL will set you back $316, which is expensive but slightly easier to stomach given Victorinox’s tools come with a lifetime warranty. Where spending that much money on a pocket knife becomes problematic is when you’re headed to the airport at the crack of dawn to catch a flight and completely forget you had it in your pocket as you pass through the TSA security checkpoint. At that point, your options are to either miss your flight or surrender the contraband—and most choose the latter, having to bid a sad goodbye to a fancy lighter, or pocket knife they’ve faithfully carried for years.

The FAA isn’t going to change its policies on bringing dangerous items onto a plane, so why haven’t airports capitalized on the situation by putting small shipping booths at security checkpoints where travelers are given a third option: sending their contraband items back home in the mail with a heavy markup?

It’s not an entirely new idea, companies like Airport Mailers do the exact same thing at various airports around the United States, sending small contraband items to any mailing address around the world for a hefty fee. But its kiosks are situated in the lobby of airports and are usually used by travelers with the foresight to empty their pockets before they pass through security. After spending hours shuffling through check-in lines, security lines, and often international customs lines, most travelers, when confronted by TSA agents, would rather say goodbye to a contraband item than return to an airport’s lobby to mail it home and then have to battle all those lines again.

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So why not offer that service right at the security checkpoint? Airports and/or the TSA could partner with well-established shippers like FedEx, UPS, or even the USPS, and split the revenues. Many travelers would happily pay a premium to ship a beloved item back home (like a pocket knife passed down from a parent) instead of surrendering it, with the added peace of mind of knowing it was in the hands of a reputable shipper. There could even be size limits on what could be sent home so an entire shipping store wouldn’t be needed on-premises. Did you forget to take that chainsaw out of your carry-on? Sorry, that’s on you.

There are thousands of products and services that already capitalize on human forgetfulness that we happily embrace, I can’t see why airports don’t cash in on it too.

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DISCUSSION

My daughter has carried a folding knife since junior high school. When she found herself in line at the airport, she hopped out of line and buried the knife in a nearby planter. When she returned it was still there.