It's been nearly eight years since Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane with explosive footwear, and I haven't heard a thing about any attempted shoe-related assaults on commercial aviation since. I emailed the Transportation Security Administration about what kind of threats had been uncovered in the deep, dark recesses of people's soles, but they sent back a vague response about the policy's history.
"By requiring all passengers to remove shoes for x-ray screening, we increase both security and efficiency at the checkpoint," the good people at the TSA wrote. Thanks. Super informative.
So today I got on the phone with TSA spokesman Duane Baird, who told me that the TSA has discovered "banned items" in passengers' shoes, but didn't say what banned items, or how many. He said that information could help people try to smuggle contraband onboard in the future. He was happy to say the shoe removal policy was effective. Just not how effective.
“We are not going to release what we find and how we find it,” Baird said.
Here's to you, TSA: