The Transportation Security Administration security line can be a frustrating and sometimes intimidating place. We remove our clothes, unpack our laptops, and pray that we go unnoticed. But TSA agents are always watching and listening. They are well-trained technicians who are skilled at detecting unusual behavior and the use of screening devices. Avoiding these seven common travel habits will save you a lot of time and a possible one-on-one run-in with a TSA agent.
1. Packing Coffee
According to the official website of the Department of Homeland Security, it is ok to bring coffee beans or grounds on a plane. However, if you do, be prepared to get flagged. Since the strong smell of coffee is often used to mask the smell of illegal substances, you may be asked to remove your coffee stash and answer a few follow-up questions.
2. Accessories & Toys Shaped Like Weapons
It may be hard to leave your favorite handbag at home on your next vacation, but not as hard as having it confiscated and left behind in the hands of a TSA agent. Squirt guns, Nerf guns, toy swords, or other items that resemble realistic firearms or weapons are prohibited on flights. That also includes any handbags or other accessories shaped like weapons — not worth the risk.
3. Disorganized Packing
Take the time to pack neatly. An overstuffed, disorganized bag may get you flagged at security. On tsa.gov they recommend keeping your bag organized to help ease the screening process as it takes time for TSA officers to make sure a jam-packed, cluttered, overstuffed bag is safe.
4. Talk Of Weapons
Keep the chatter light and away from any topics about weapons. The TSA’s mission is to “protect the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.” So, any questions or overheard conversations about weapons, firearms, explosives, or other dangerous, prohibited items can get you quickly pulled from line and questioned.
5. Not Having The Right Identification
Safety is the TSA’s main concern and not having the proper identification on hand at any security checkpoint will certainly get you flagged. We’ve all been in a rush before to make a flight, but triple checking to make sure you have the correct identification is never a waste of time.
6. Lots Of Change
According to tsa.gov, more than $869,000 in change was left by passengers at security checkpoints in 2017. That’s a lot of change. The more change you carry in your pockets, the more likely you will be asked to remove it and possibly forget it!
TSA Travel Tip: To keep from leaving your money behind at the checkpoint, place it in a plastic bag, pouch or favorite fanny-pack and store in your carry-on bag for X-ray screening.
7. Not Knowing The Rules By Country
What you may be allowed to carry on your flight in one country may not be allowed in another. A quick online search of the airport in your destination city should provide a list of prohibited and acceptable items to take on your flight.