Last Sunday I observed a traveler ahead of me being pulled aside for a body scan, pat down, and luggage check. While they did have TSA Pre-Check, the metal detector kept going off when they tried to go through multiple times. (Likely due to their smart watch that they failed to remove before walking through.) This resulted in the traveler undergoing a random check, which drew attention from fellow individuals passing through TSA.
Their suitcase was opened on the counter and their food packages were swabbed. The traveler insisted it was just food they brought with them. Everything came back negative according to the machine. They were told to repack on another table and the traveler looked irritable as they took over repacking.
The TSA agent who handled the case was weary and commented to me that she knew the traveler was irritated, but it was her job. She said she gets this kind of treatment all the time when rare cases like this come up and concluded that she wouldn’t recommend her job to anyone else.
From the traveler’s perspective, it’s hard to not be flustered when all eyes are on you for a random check. Your brain tells you that the other passing through without problem are silently judging you, wondering why you’re a problem. On the other hand, the scanners don’t do the best job producing a crisp, clear image of everything inside a bag or piece of luggage, which is why certain bags get pulled aside for a second look. In today’s world, you can’t be too careful.
I said to the TSA agent that there is no such thing as an easy job and gave her an understanding look. No one likes to have their luggage opened in public with nosy people peeking in, but the best one can do is try to remain calm and composed. At the end of the day, it can be awkward for all parties to check someone’s belongings, but cooperating can help things move along faster.
TSA aside, I want to encourage everyone to try to remember as we travel for the holidays and vacation to treat everyone with respect. We all want to get to our final destinations on time with as few hiccups as possible. However, taking our emotions out on others only makes things difficult and you could become someone’s lunchtime story of an impossible customer.