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A Hefty Dose of Skepticism

John Deiner

I'm all for geegaws and whatnots and thingamabobs to help improve the lives of travelers. Things are rough out there. But something popped into my mailbox yesterday that made me cringe.

Okay, maybe I'm easily cringe-able, but let's see how you feel. According to a press release, "Pactiv Corporation, maker of Hefty brand products, today announced it has expanded its line of Hefty OneZip slider bags to include the new Hefty OneZip Travel bag." The release included a sample of the product.

Here's what this revolutionary new product is: a standard zip-top, one-quart plastic bag with an airplane printed on it and the words "MEETS AIRPORT SECURITY GUIDELINES." Seven of the bags come in a flat box, which, the press release notes, "can be easily stored in an outside pocket of a carry-on travel bag." I called the company and was told the suggested retail price is $1 for the box of seven bags.

Doesn't matter, though. I wouldn't buy them -- and while we're at it, I don't buy the pitch either.

When I compared the Hefty OneZip Travel bags with a one-quart Ziploc Easy Zipper bag (which I picked up on sale recently for $2.50 for a box of 20), they were basically identical -- sans that little airplane and the print about it meeting security guidelines. The good news is that the price difference is negligible (12.5 cents per bag vs. 14.2 cents).

But do people really need this much hand-holding? I find that most travelers are pretty savvy months after the TSA liquid/gel rules went into effect, and I'd wager that the vast majority a.) know they need a plastic bag for their carryon toiletries and b.) probably already own one or two or 20 of the boring ol' generic types. (What you can and can't put in them is another story.)

John Schwab, senior vice president and general manager of Hefty Consumer Products, is quoted in the release as saying, "I have heard from both fellow travelers and TSA screeners that the quart-size Hefty OneZip bag is the perfect solution to make the security screening process much smoother. When you use a Hefty OneZip Travel bag, and follow the TSA 3-1-1 guidelines, you eliminate the guesswork."

He's right about the importance of following the TSA guidelines. Using his bag? Not so much.


By John Deiner |  February 14, 2007; 3:41 PM ET  | Category:  John Deiner
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At the Miami Airport I actually had to spend a dollar just to buy a 1 quart bag when I discovered I had to take my luggage on board rather than ship it . Would I have bought the Hefty 7 pack for the same price? Maybe. If the bags were actually of a heavier plastic (the thick kind samsonite uses for it's plastic bags for packing) it might be worth it. A few extra heavy duty bags in a suitcase is not a bad idea. There's always small stuff to pack and a bag is handy. Think of this, a regualr box of 30 costs several dollars. If you don't ever plan to use 30, then the 7 pack is a bargain.

Posted by: Babbette | February 14, 2007 7:28 PM

At the Miami Airport I actually had to spend a dollar just to buy a 1 quart bag when I discovered I had to take my luggage on board rather than ship it . Would I have bought the Hefty 7 pack for the same price? Maybe. If the bags were actually of a heavier plastic (the thick kind samsonite uses for it's plastic bags for packing) it might be worth it. A few extra heavy duty bags in a suitcase is not a bad idea. There's always small stuff to pack and a bag is handy. Think of this, a regualr box of 30 costs several dollars. If you don't ever plan to use 30, then the 7 pack is a bargain.

Posted by: Babbette | February 14, 2007 7:29 PM

I used a gallon ziplock on the way west & had TSA whine because it wasn't a quart bag. Pretty silly, and the whole thing didn't make me feel any safer. Neither did taking off my shoes for all that matter.

TSA provisions are an embarrassment to common sense, and seem to illustrate what a poor job DHS is doing in keeping the citizenry safe in the first place.

Posted by: Gentry | February 14, 2007 11:31 PM

Stores sell smaller portions of fruit, and charge a lot. Shampoo makers, etc. sell travel-size versions of shampoo, deoderant, etc. and charge a lot. Why shouldn't the plastic bag companies have an opportunity to rip-off the public.

Posted by: Alice | February 15, 2007 3:48 PM

I keep spares in my luggage in case my Freedom Baggie has a blowout.... 7 for $1? I think that is outrageous and those who would pay that (and there are those who will) have absolutely no common sense. If you don't normally use quartsize baggies, talk your sister/mother/neighbor out of one of theirs rather than paying that price.

Posted by: ella | February 15, 2007 4:51 PM

that's American commercialism, consumerism, marketing at it's finest! Who out there thinks there's really a difference between the countertop cleaner, cabinet cleaner, general surface cleaner, anti-bacterial cleaner, kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner....blah blah blah

same products, different marketing

I'm impressed that folks were able to buy a bag at MIA. Where? Do other airports sell bags? I once took a poor Brit's lipstick in my bag since she didn't know. Guess it could've been a bomb, but I took my chances.

Posted by: anon | February 15, 2007 7:18 PM

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