10 Things You Should Never Say to a TSA Agent


5 min read
Tsa Security

After the enormous U.S. tragedy on September 11, 2001, there was a significant ramp-up in airport security; the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). There is undeniably no escaping the security line and the interactions with TSA agents but, as bad as it may seem, there are certainly ways to make it much worse than it has to be. 

Be sure to keep the following suggestions in mind the next time you go through airport security – it could be the difference between making your flight and missing it… or worse!

10. Threatening Jokes

Tsa Joke

When we feel nervous (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t feel a little bit anxious while going through airport security), one knee-jerk reaction is to make a joke. Jokes break the ice, make us laugh and can even tone down our nerves at times, but certain jokes should never be made around TSA agents. Any that could pose a threat should be kept to yourself.

9. Talk of Any Weapon

Airport Weapon

While it’s undoubtedly a bad idea to speak about bombs around a TSA agent, whether it is intended as a joke or not, it is no better to make any other kind of threat. It is best to avoid talking about any weapon (guns, knives, etc.), especially in a threatening or suggestive way, while going through security. 

The only exception is if you are checking a legally-owned firearm that is unloaded and locked in a hard-sided container. Other than that, don’t mention anything that could be threatening, for your own sake!

8. Talk of Being Drunk

Tsa Drunk

A common way to calm nerves before a flight is to have a drink or two; there’s nothing wrong with that. But it is smart to wait until after you get through security to get a drink. If you do happen to be a little drunk by the time you are going through security, it is best not to talk about it. A big part of the security check-point is behavior analysis. One too many drinks can be mistaken as suspicious behavior, which can mean the difference between getting to your gate on time or even missing your flight.

7. Joke During More “Intimate” Screenings

Intimate Screening

If they select you for a more “intimate” screening, for whatever reason, try to act as natural as possible, and it will all be over before you know it. Any resistance or attempts at humor during this process will likely result in significant delays or more serious repercussions. So, even if you’re tempted, just keep the inappropriate jokes to yourself.

6. “I’m So Scared/Stressed”

Airport Stressed

It’s entirely natural to find traveling, flying and security lines stressful – Traveling can cause anxiety in even the most seasoned travelers. However, as mentioned before, a big part of the TSA screening process is behavioral observation, and signs of stress or anxiety can set off some of the trigger warnings.

If your anxiety does cause you to express panic, your behavior could indicate to agents that you’re trying to hide something illegal or plan to do something that could cause harm to others. Do whatever it takes to keep a cool head while going through the screening process. Even if you’re feeling apprehensive, don’t share that with agents, as it could be taken the wrong way.

5. “I’m in a Hurry”

Airport Rushing

Just about everyone going through screening at an airport is in a hurry or just wants to get the process over with as quickly as possible! But a hurried, nervous attitude, similar to an anxious or fearful one, may cause TSA agents to be suspicious. Again, just try your best to keep your feelings to yourself and move through the screening process as calmly as possible. The easiest way to fix feeling rushed is to get to the airport with the recommended three hours to spare.

4.”I Might Have Coronavirus”

Airport Covid

Travel right now is more complicated than usual because of the global pandemic. The added stress is not limited to passengers. Pilots, flight attendants, ticket counter workers and security agents are at an even higher risk as they are working in the airport all day long. With that said, TSA agents won’t take any mention of possible COVID-19 infections lightly, even if you do mean it as a joke. Do your due diligence, get tested, don’t travel if you are sick and definitely don’t joke about it!

3. “I Don’t Want to Take My Shoes Off”

Airport Shoes

No one wants to take their shoes off – who would? The awkwardness of bending over to untie them, and then putting them back on and, of course, that uncomfortable feeling of showing off your socks or bare feet. But, like it or not, we all have to do it, so complaining about it to the TSA agents won’t get you out of it, but it might get you an extra pat-down. So, as annoying as it is, just get it over with, and get on with your trip!

2. Lies

Airport Lies

Some items, including larger electronics, liquids and food, must be taken out of carry-on luggage and shown to TSA agents during the screening process. If you have one of these items, don’t try to pretend that you don’t – it will be obvious to agents once your bag goes through the X-ray machine, and this may cause more delays for you rather than speeding up the process.

If you are thinking about trying to sneak something through, just don’t! Suppose you do try to sneak something through, and you get caught, in that case, don’t deny it – just let the agent take the item from you without complaint, or you will be the only one to blame for missing your flight!

1. Any Bribe

Bribe Tsa

This may go without saying, but do not, under any circumstances, try to bribe a TSA agent. Not only will it not work, but it will also spark all sorts of red flags regarding your motives and possible connections to illicit or dangerous activities.

If you keep these ten rules in mind, your trip should go smoothly! It’s also important to remember that TSA agents are people too, doing their jobs like anyone else. Do them and yourself a favor, and treat them with the same respect and kindness that everyone deserves!

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