Some travelers believe the TSA’s policies are burdensome and ineffectual; others acknowledge that individual employees are doing their best to conform to a frequently confusing, ever-changing set of procedures. Some former TSA officers were asked about their experiences, and here’s what they had to say about life in blue gloves. While you are waiting in line at the airport…
1. Traveling cats are the real terrorists. They don’t want to come out and they don’t respond well. Dogs are usually not a
2. They have code words for types of passengers. Annoying, attractive, nervous, etc. Agents can pass information or alerts to each other without upsetting travelers.
3. Fancy hairdos are a security risk. Any passenger coming through with an elaborate hairdo— either carefully braided hair or the kind of up-do found on women headed for a wedding—means additional inspection will be required, because piled-up hair can conceivably conceal a weapon.
4. They like it better when travelers are exhausted. Travelers taking evening flights are typically more cooperative than morning passengers. Apparently, the early morning fliers are not nearly so nice!
5. Cheese can look just like a bomb. That giant wheel of cheese you’re bringing back from the holidays? It’s going to cause a lot of agitation among employees monitoring the x-ray machine. A block of cheese is indistinguishable from C4. There is no difference on the screen. Meats, too. All organic products look orange on the display and similar to explosives.
6. Your gender can confuse them. When a passenger enters a full-body scanner, the device operator hits a button to tell the unit whether it’s a he or she. It makes a difference, since a female passenger’s anatomy would raise a red flag when the machine expects to see male-only parts, and vice versa. If a person's gender isn’t easily ascertained on sight and a TSO guesses, a pair of breasts could initiate a delay. The machines detect things under clothes, and if it doesn’t match what’s been pressed, it means a pat down.
7. They are writing on your ticket for two reasons. Policies can vary by airport, but generally, security officers sitting up front and checking tickets are looking for irregularities in your identification: If something causes them to be suspicious, they’ll write something on your ticket that would prompt a more thorough inspection. They’ll also write their badge number and initials, so the airline knows they’ve been through security when they board.
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