Things You Do That Really Tick Off TSA Agents
Getting through airport security is perhaps the most stressful part of traveling. There’s no way to judge how long the lines will be — if you go too late it’s likely you’ll miss your flight and if you go super early you get to sit around the airport waiting. In addition, TSA agents can be brusque — and there’s always the chance you might qualify for a pat-down procedure, which can be downright invasive.
The TSA is here to stay. There is no way you can get out of going through airport security, but here are ways you can make it easier on yourself — and others. If you want to sail through security once you’re at the front of the line, don’t do these things that really make TSA agents mad — you might end up spending far more time there than you thought you would.
1. Not taking everything your pockets
Did you not hear the TSA agents announcing that you must take everything out of your pockets? Just do it. Because the Automated Image Technology scanners can detect nonmetallic items as well as metallic, reported Bravo, leaving that tissue in your pocket might raise suspicion — and get you a pat down. Do yourself and everyone else in line a favor and empty your pockets — don’t hold everyone up just because you don’t pay attention to TSA announcements.
Next: Just be quiet
2. Hassling them over rules they didn’t make up
No matter how irritated you are at the security check, you have to remember that TSA agents are just doing their jobs. If you try to take a bottle of water on the flight, you’re going to lose it, period. The maximum liquid limit is 3.4 ounces, according to SmarterTraveler, so don’t go over that. Maybe the most important thing not to do, however, is give the agent a hard time about the rule. You don’t like it — and the agent might not, either — but rules are rules and the agent didn’t make them up.
Next: Shunning shoe removal
3. Refusing to take off your shoes
Do you know why you’re required to take off your shoes at airport security? Back in 2001, failed shoe bomber Richard Reid smuggled explosives on the plane by hiding them in his shoes, according to Bravo. In 2006, TSA made it mandatory for travelers to take their shoes off when they go through security. Don’t fight this — you’ll lose. And you’ll hold up the whole dang line — plus yourself. If you hate taking your shoes off that much, apply for a TSA Precheck, which is essentially a comprehensive background check that, if you’re approved, enables you to keep your shoes, belt, and jacket on.
Next: Packing anything outrageous
4. Packing something you know is totally out of bounds
The Transportation Security Administration blog noted in August 2017 that TSA officers collected 1,861 firearms in the first half of the year, which is approximately 20% more than they collected in the first half of 2016. It’s almost unbelievable that so many people would actually try to board a plane with a gun. Most people said they forgot they were carrying them — funny how firearms jump into a suitcase. Do not try to take something with you that’s completely out of bounds — leave the guns, swords, knives, and propane canisters at home. Take something like that and you’ll not only spend a lot of time in security, you’ll lose your outrageous item.
Next: Short skirts only, please
5. Wearing longs skirts and dresses
According to former Los Angeles TSA agent Kimberly Pruitt, people who wear long skirts and dressing annoy the heck out of agents. “If you are opposed to getting patted down, then wearing a maxi skirt or dress isn’t your best bet because the officer will have to check you are not hiding anything under your skirt,” said Pruitt. Once again, wearing this type of clothing can take more time to get through the line, hold everyone else up, and cause you quite a bit of embarrassment.
Next: Cats are controversial.
6. Traveling with a cat
TSA agents find a number of dangerous things in passengers’ bags, according to the website TheRichest, but none so dangerous as … wait for it … cats. TSA agents cannot stand going through cat carriers — many workers have been hissed at, bitten, and scratched — and some cats have jumped out of the carriers and tried to run away. This is not a joke: If an animal gets past security before someone “searches” it, the TSA could shut down the entire terminal. Consider leaving Fluffy at home — or driving instead of flying.
Next: Don’t ask for white- glove treatment.
7. Asking an agent to change his or her gloves
TSA agents agree that one of the most annoying things passengers ask them to do is change their gloves before they search them, reported TheRichest. Agents are constantly changing their gloves on their own, and typically wear a pair for only approximately an hour. Asking an agent to change his or her gloves before patting you down is silly — the pat down takes only seconds and typically doesn’t involve touching any skin. For heaven’s sake, get over your OCD and stop holding up the line.
Next: Lay off the cheese, please.
8. Traveling with cheese
Yes, this is a thing. Unfortunately, if you travel with cheese, according to TheRichest, you’re asking for trouble. The problem is that a block of cheese looks just like a C4 explosive on the security screen. Not only will it likely scare the bejesus out of the agent, he or she will have to take the time to ensure the cheese is really just cheese. A tip: Anything organic shows up on the machine as orange in color, which is also how explosives show. If you take a giant picnic on a plane, prepare to get detained.
Next: Do not refuse to do this or you’ll be asking for a headache.
9. Refusing to take the full body scan
People: Do not refuse to take the full body scan. These scans enable security agents to see your body in detail, it’s true, and that’s not a pleasant thought. But if you’re afraid that it’s invasive for your body, don’t be: The scanners operate off millimeter radio waves, according to TheRichest, and pose no health hazards. If you have a medical reason why you can’t walk through the scan, speak up. But if you’re just being a pain, officers might identify you as a potential security risk, which can open up a can or worms you don’t want to open.
Next: Leave your standup routine at home.
10. Making jokes about terrorists
This might sound like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many jokesters try to make TSA agents laugh by making jokes about terrorists. This just in: Jokes about bombs and terrorists will not expedite the screening process. Keep that in mind when you’re dying to tell that airport joke to your security screener.
Next: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
11. Telling them they’re a waste of taxpayers’ money
Do you really need to know that insulting a TSA agent isn’t going to get you through the line faster? According to Bravo, a TSA agent said that passengers often tell them they’re a “waste of tax money and a joke.” TSA agents try to get passengers through the line as quickly as they can, despite what grumpy travelers think. Try to be nice to these people — being impatient won’t get you anything but more frustration.
Next: Don’t get your hair did.
12. Wearing a fancy hairdo
If you go through security with a giant beehive — or an updo — prepare for an additional inspection. Why? No one knows what you’re concealing under that mountain of hair — it could be a weapon. TSA hate when passengers wear complicated hairdos because the body scanners are super sensitive when it comes to the head, producing more false positives in that area than any other. Get your do done after you get off the plane — it will look better than if you sat in an airplane seat resting your head on your neighbor’s shoulder for a long time, anyway.
Next: Quit your whining
13. Complaining that an agent searched your bag and left it in disarray
If an agent has to search your bag, please don’t comment about the way he or she puts your stuff back in your suitcase. They have to go through so many bags each day that they really don’t have time to replace all your carefully packed items the way they found them. Sure, it would be nice if the agents put breakable items back in the middle of the bag, but if you complain about them not doing that, you might be asking for trouble. Just take your back after the agent searches it and rearrange it yourself.
Next: Move along
14. Dumping your stuff in bins and not moving along
Don’t put your stuff in the bins at security and just stand there — move along so others can put their stuff in, too. TSA agents don’t like anything that slows down the line, according to Fox News, and neither do your fellow travelers. Put your stuff in the bins and then push them down the line — or, at the very least, ask the people behind you to go around you if you need more time to juggle all your stuff — or you just need to stand there.
Next: Don’t get wasted before boarding.
15. Trying to board when you’re intoxicated
Public intoxication in an airport is a serious offense, according to SmarterTraveler. Whether you have a few drinks before you Uber to the airport or hit the airport bar before your flight, act as sober as you possibly can when you go through security. If you’re obviously drunk, the TSA might call the police and have you escorted out of the airport. You’ll hold up the line big-time if you get flagged for public drunkenness — and you’ll miss your flight.
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