flight schedule screen turned on
Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

The Great TSA Mystery!

It amazes me that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to crack the TSA secret code of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I get the general liquids, shoes, and electronics rules but there always seems to be a little surprising twist. On Monday, I need to show ID and tickets in Washington, D.C. but on Friday I only need ID in Palm Beach. I can put my shoes on top of my laptop in Atlanta but don’t dare mix shoes and electronics on the conveyor belt in Dallas! AND all of this TSA travel nonsense may or may not be true when I click publish!

photo of people in airport for TSA Travel
Photo by Connor Danylenko on Pexels.com

Line Dancing

If you are anything like me, I’m sure you scope out the line competition. I’m always trying to make the best choice as to who to get behind. The man with the money clip, laptop, belt and jacket is a choice. Contestant two: the airport wheelchair couple that just came through the Clear line. And the inevitable last choice is the lady with two kids and a stroller. Why oh why am I never behind the lady who checked her bag and doesn’t have to empty her pockets?!

Nope, I am usually directed to the guy who hasn’t flown without his wife in 30 years and just realized he has to take off his belt. Insert eye roll here!


Help me Obi Wan!!!

So what can I do?! As Shiela in Newark says my shoes need to be touching the conveyor belt and Todd in Detroit says that I don’t need to do anything because the airport has just been remodeled and they have face recognition, I give in to the roulette game. I’m sure both Todd and Shiela have checked my FBI record by the time I make it to the jumping jacks machine where you literally need to assume the position. Which, for the record, is extremely thin!! In fact, I was once told that I will always be pulled aside if my pants are cuffed. That was at Baltimore.

The only thing that I have found to be reasonably helpful in combating the TSA rules is the MyTSA app. Simply choose your airport and you can see how well the lines are moving and what the anticipated wait is. It sure is helpful but it still doesn’t quite crack the secret code of the day!

Very Funny, TSA

If there is one thing that’s certain in all of this line waiting and scanning it’s that TSA has one heck of a sense of humor! Whoever is running their Instagram feed deserves an award for taking the most ridiculous situations that travelers throw their way and sharing it with the rest of us. I tend to scroll on their feed while I’m waiting in line. It brings me a little joy and patience.

Seriously, though.

I’m sure by now, you are asking the following questions:

  • Question: So what do you do to make TSA easier?
  • Answer: I ensure that I have no layers on and slip on shoes with socks before I get to the security check. I also CHECK MY BAGS!!!! Go ahead, judge me as you shove that carry on in above my head.
  • Question: Is pre-check, Global Entry or Clear even worth it?!
  • Answer: Honestly, I don’t think so. I was next to someone with Clear at the ticket counter and as I went through the standard TSA line, they finished at the same time I did. Pre check may be a tad faster but if you are prepared for the fact that they are going to throw you a curve ball, the difference is a matter of a few minutes.
  • Question: What do you do with your water bottle?
  • Answer: I keep it empty and then look for a refill station on the other side of security. Airports are adding plenty of these and I see them more and more. A water bottle combined with a little bento box (I always take a bamboo one that I’m willing to ditch.) can be quite the budget move.


So go enjoy your next adventure! Be prepared and know that you’ll still be surprised. And may the TSA odds be ever in your favor….

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