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 get you pulled and questioned,” Farina says. Before you fly, find out how to get TSA precheck.
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.
Red Flag #3: Not taking out all liquids
By now you know the 3.4 ounce (or 100 milliliters) rule for bringing liquids on airplanes post 9/11. And most liquids are obvious—shampoo, lotion, mouthwash, but there may be random items buried at the bottom of your purse that you forget about until TSA is holding them up, demanding an answer. Travel journalist Maggie Espinosa says this happened to her on the way back from a trip to Guatemala; she forgot antibacterial gel she purchased at the Antigua Choco Museum. Though the TSA agent let her pour out a bit to get it under the limit, others may ask you to discard your toiletry completely. If that happens, just go with it and follow the rules. These popular travel tips are actually no longer true.