12 Things Your TSA Security Agent Isn’t Telling You
In 2016, the TSA discovered a record 3,391 firearms during screenings. But it wasn't accomplished without a lot of stress. Here's what officers are really thinking while you wait in the security line.
I don’t think it makes sense to confiscate your oversized tube of toothpaste either
But everything I do is on camera, so even if I disagree with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rule, I must enforce it.
We get frustrated when passengers demand that we justify a policy
It’s hard to explain why a senior citizen can’t keep his utility knife with a tiny blade, while a 300-pound man fresh out of prison can hop on board with his scissors, toothbrush, and lighter. Plus, your wait in the security line will be much longer if you see these four letters on your boarding pass.
Creating the TSA was largely a political decision
And many terrorism experts still believe that it doesn’t significantly enhance our security. Police catch murderers, the FBI catches bank robbers, but how many terrorists have been caught by screeners? Zero that we know of.
The TSA operates with your consent, expressed or implied
If you withhold consent, the screening process stops, and you are usually free to leave the airport. Officers may hold you until the police arrive, but ultimately they can do nothing.
You may be exempt from scanning
If you’re a child under 12 or at least 75 years old, you don’t need a full-body scan, because your age group poses less of a threat.
We get starstruck too
I’ve watched airline executives and even federal security directors scrambling around to impress celebrity fliers with competitive displays of their most expeditious screening.
Want to avoid a pat-down after going through the full-body scanner?
Don’t wear shirts or pants with extraneous pockets, buttons, or zippers, or anything with sequined bling on it. These items tend to appear suspicious on the scanner, which is programmed to flag anything out of the ordinary.
Please find another way to smuggle your lizards, snakes, and other illegal pets across a border
I once opened a suitcase to find a container of baby vipers hidden in a cosmetics bag.
We used to be able to see a lot on the body scanners
Breast implants, hernias, six-pack abs… But new equipment installed over the past year allows us to see only a generic silhouette of a person.
We see the good side of people, too
Every so often, a woman explains she can’t have the full-body scan by revealing that she’s pregnant. She and her traveling companions stage a mini celebration right there. We call it a “baby shower opt-out.” It’s one of the few heartwarming things we see happen. Next, read about these things you should never, ever do on an airplane.