Mistakes to Avoid at TSA Checkpoints
TSA checks may not be your favorite part of traveling, but they’re standard procedure that needs to be followed.
While some rules and regulations may sound unreasonable or even downright ridiculous, they exist for a reason and it’s on the officials to enforce them and on us to respect them.
Now, passing through TSA security can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. If you follow the procedures to the letter you can be in and out of there in under a minute – but, if you try to bend the rules or cheat the system in any way…well, let’s just say that missing your flight isn’t the worst thing that can happen.
So, if you’re considering being a trickster or you’re simply unsure of what NOT to do when going through security, fret not. We’ve made a list of some of the most common mistakes to avoid at TSA checkpoints.
This may sound like a no brainer. But you’d be surprised to learn just how many people make the mistake of packing guns and firearms in their carry on. According to Abc News, the TSA confiscated 4,239 firearms only last year.
The scariest part? More than 80% of those guns were loaded.
The right to bear arms undergoes certain limitations at airports and it’s important to inform yourself correctly of said procedures to be able to travel safely.
Another aspect to consider is souvenir weapons.
Now, it’s completely understandable to want to bring back a Katana or a Shuriken from your visit to Japan. But keep in mind that, although souvenirs, these are still considered deadly weapons.
This doesn’t mean you need to forgo your gifts though! It just means that any cutting or thrusting weapons such as swords need to be neatly sheathed and securely wrapped and packed in checked baggage only.
Not Respecting the Liquid Limit
Ahh yes, the dreaded liquid limit. Nobody so far has managed to make sense of it and even fewer have managed to surpass it.
One of the most common mistakes people make regarding this rule is not checking which products are regulated by it. You still commonly see people holding up lines because they weren’t aware that deodorants, toothpaste, and perfume are considered liquids.
To avoid confusion, it’s always best to visit the airport’s website and double-check the requirements.
The general rule (3-1-1) is that all liquids (and gels) must be stored in 3.4 oz toiletry bottles and packed away neatly in a clear container.
Duty-free items, baby formula, and certain medications are listed as exceptions to this rule. Of course, we always recommend consulting with an airport official if you have any questions regarding certain products, food, and medicine.
Not Using TSA-Approved Locks
Random checks are nothing new and definitely not something to be afraid of. These are just necessary precautions TSA officials take to provide a safer experience for all passengers.
In case you do get picked for a random search or if an official determines that your luggage need to be checked thoroughly, it’s best to comply and come prepared.
By prepared we mean securing your luggage with a TSA-approved lock.
Now, why is this important?
It’s quite simple actually. TSA-approved locks can be opened with a master key which all of the officials have a copy of. This means that if it comes down to checking and opening your luggage, the guards will be able to open your luggage with no hassle, instead of breaking it – which is something that can definitely happen.
So, if you want to avoid unnecessary commotion and simply make the best out of an unpleasant situation, we recommend securing your bags with TSA-approved locks.
Arguing With the Guards
If there’s one thing we can vouch for then it’s this one: nothing good has ever come from arguing with officials. This includes guards, police officers and other uniformed agents.
Although traveling can be stress-inducing and overwhelming at times, it’s important to learn how to control your temper.
Not only will nothing good come out of arguing. But you can also make the situation much worse for yourself in the long run.
Ask yourself, is missing your flight or being detained really worth it?
Remember that TSA officials, as well as airport workers and other personnel, are simply following protocols and in most cases will try to help you – if you only ask nicely.
Making Inappropriate Jokes
While you might be the joker of your group, it’s always important to know the time and place for making jokes. TSA checkpoints are neither.
This is especially true when it comes to inappropriate jokes or sensitive topics.
Try to refrain from starting any kind of talk relating to bombs, terrorists, explosions, weapons, kidnappings, etc.
You may find it funny at that moment, but it probably won’t be as hilarious once you’re dragged into the interrogation room and questioned for hours. Not only will you miss your flight and cause a full-on commotion, but the officials will be required to secure the airport, report the situation to senior officials and launch an investigation.
Even something that strikes you as a completely obvious joke will be taken seriously, so the best way to go is to adopt a No Comment policy while at the airport.
Failing to Follow Instructions
Finally, most mistakes come from simply not following direct instructions.
According to the TSA, there are a few frequent mishaps that travelers often don’t pay heed to. That makes the process of going through security that much more bothersome.
For instance, when a TSA officer says to empty your pockets, instead of just removing keys and other metal objects, be sure to remove every last item. If the scanner shows a concealed object, they may presume you’re trying to hide something and require a thorough pat-down. How foolish would you feel to go through all that just for not removing a box of tissues from your pocket?
This refers to mobile phones, laptops, and tablets as well. Make sure to remove them from their carrying cases before proceeding further.
Another common mistake is not finishing your beverage before going through the checkpoint. Remember the liquid limit? It still applies, even if you just bought that drink a minute ago. So, finish your mocha, dispose of the cup and head over to the checkpoint.
Lastly, if you’re traveling with friends or family, make sure NOT to keep all your documents together. Every person should hold onto their travel document, present it to the person in charge and go through – one by one.
The best thing you can do is to not make the TSA officer play Pictionary and try to guess which passport belongs to which person.