First up, why do we have the TSA?
You already know that TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration (or if you didn’t, now you do), but apart from the obvious—checking for off-limits items—do you know what role they play in the travel industry? Philip Farina, CPP a safety and security advisor at Farina and Associates, Ltd., explains, “While transportation systems are vast, the bulk of TSA’s efforts are focused on aviation. They accomplish their mission using a combination of well-trained technicians who are skilled in customer service, communications, and document fraud, access-control devices such as scanners, signage, metal detectors, CCTV, X-ray machines and chemical/vapor sensing devices, and finally a set of processes and procedures that allows engagement with customers while providing increased levels of security.” In other words, they’re always on the lookout to make sure you get from point A to point B without a scratch or in any danger. By the way, the results are in: These are the best and worst domestic airlines.
Red Flag #1: Talking about weapons
You might think it’s A-okay to be chatty with an officer, or you think you’re just being friendly, but asking any questions related to weapons, firearms, explosives, or other dangerous, prohibited items puts you on the TSA’s radar. “While we do have freedom of speech in the United States, any mention of these items while in the airport or security lines can you you pulled and questioned,” Farina says.
Red Flag #2: Traveling with coffee
Some people lug back shot glasses, others magnets or keychains, but if your token souvenir from your travels is a lot of java, travel editor and associate manager at hotwire.com, Geena Marcelia says your coffee addiction could make you a target for TSA. “Apparently, the strong smell of coffee is also used to mask the smell of some illegal substances. I’ve almost always had my bags searched, both checked and carry-on, when bringing back coffee,” she says. Here are the airport mistakes we’re all still making.