10 Things Airport Security Actually Does

The most dangerous object on the plane: you could drown someone in it, make someone slip and fall on a wet floor, choke on the bottle cap, terrorize the passengers by crunching the empty bottle... The possibilities are endless.

The most dangerous object on the plane: you could drown someone in this water, or make someone slip and fall on a wet floor, or short a vital electrical circuit, or choke on the bottle cap, or terrorize the passengers by crunching the empty bottle… The possibilities of disaster are endless.

If you had ever flown on a commercial flight in the US in the last 15 years, you have surely had some experience with the airport security, also known as the TSA, also known as the fiercest foe of scissors and water bottles. However, when undercover agents tested just how good is the airport security in catching hidden weapons and explosives, they found that the TSA screeners missed these items in over 95% of the tests. You might be thinking that TSA is totally useless, but the fact is that the airport security is doing a lot of useful things besides their purported job. Here are 10 things that the airport security actually does instead of catching weapons and explosives.

1)  Stopping the transport of water: As the drought in California and floods in Texas prove, an uncontrolled movement of water can lead to all kinds of disasters.

2)  Improving your health: 4 out of 5 doctors recommend walking barefoot, and TSA gives everyone an opportunity to walk barefoot in public and not be thought of as a weirdo.

3)  Providing additional emergency landing safety: By making you bring ziplock bags to display your tiny allowed bottles, TSA ensures you have additional flotation devices in case the airplane makes an emergency landing in the water. (Sure, the flight attendants always say that there is a life jacket under your seat, but how many of you had actually checked?)

4)  Angering the passengers: The airplane passengers have a much better record of stopping potential terrorists than the TSA (who stopped exactly zero of them), and angry passengers are more alert and more likely to tackle and stop a potential terrorist in an airplane.

5)  Stimulating shopping: By making you take off your shoes in public, TSA encourages you to finally buy some new socks without these embarrassing holes.

6)  Providing extra legroom: By confiscating your scissors, water bottles, sunscreens, lighters, screwdrivers, and other deadly items, TSA makes your carry-on smaller, resulting in more free space under the seat in front of you.

7)  Preventing alien invasions: Since TSA apparently isn’t checking passengers for explosives or weapons when they X-ray them, the X-ray machines must be searching for the signs of aliens growing inside you.

8)  Inspiring friendships: By making passengers stand and commiserate in the long lines, TSA encourages face-to-face communication between people and kindles many new acquaintances.

9)  Lowering airplane ticket prices: By discouraging people from flying, TSA reduces the demand for the tickets, which causes the tickets prices go down.

10)  Preventing terrorist acts: By stalling the terrorists in the neverending security lines, TSA makes terrorists miss their flights and wrecks their carefully designed evil schemes.


About List of X

An Ostensibly Funny Commentary* of the Recent News and Events. (* warning! may not actually be funny or a commentary. Also, since I am not quite sure what "ostensibly" means, it might not be "ostensibly" either.) Blogging at listofx.com
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76 Responses to 10 Things Airport Security Actually Does

  1. DL says:

    I am flying out this weekend on one’s Lear Jet where one has a plentiful supply of bottled water, scissors, sunscreen etc safely stocked away. I generally hop over the fence anyway to avoid the security wonks. Anyone need a lift?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting, isn’t it, that we haven’t been told the statistics on how many aliens have been detected. What are they hiding? The truth is out there. ..


  3. Paul says:

    You know we have the same rent a cop type attitude at our Canadian security as well. I had to travel to Vancouver and had to take medication in syringes and in a cooler bag aboard the plane.. It was a substantial amount and weighed about 5 pounds, bag included. I was seriously upset that this would stop me from travelling or cause delay. I was anal about documentation and had signed copies from three places in the hospital, on hospital letterhead with phone numbers for verification. When it was my turn at security, I had to strip like everyone else, went through wanding and search and x-ray. I had the cold bag on a strap over my shoulder and indicated it was medication. They said “Fine” and didn’t look. didn’t open it, didn’t ask for documentation, didn’t ask why, didn’t even look at the bag, let alone in it. I stood flabbergasted on the secure side of the check point wanting to scream – “I could have had a bomb in there and you didn’t even look! ” But, of course, I didn’t – I just swallowed, kept my mouth shut and walked away. Meanwhile, they were busy taking water and shampoo and bath oils from the women in the line.

    I often wondered (having dealt with poorly trained rent a cops before) just how effective the searches were – and decided not very. Glad to see I wan’t wrong. Pitting smart , well planned terrorists against a crew of poorly paid security cops whose awareness is dulled by routine is not a fair battle.

    Excellent post X – great wake-up call.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Paul says:

      Too long?


    • List of X says:

      Yeah, that was a very smart decision to not say “it could have been a bomb!” out loud. Because that would set off all kinds of alarms in their heads, and you’d get groped, X-rayed, questioned, detained, subjected to a drug and bomb-sniffing dog test, your syringes would have been taken apart, and all your documentation would have been discarded as elaborate fakes.
      Because I think sarcasm is one of the banned items that you’re not allowed to take through security. Or the screeners are just not paid enough to understand it.
      I once had to go through security with a box of receivers for wireless microphones. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but if you can imagine a wirelessly operated explosive device, you’d probably imagine something like a scary-looking black metal/plastic box filled with all kinds of wires visible inside, and a short antenna outside. That’s exactly what this receiver looks like. There were 4 of these, attached inside a holder case. I think I spent about 15 minutes trying to explain what these are, trying to not mention the word “bomb” or make a joke (even though that seemed only appropriate because I was trying to explain that these bomb-like devices are to be used in a comedy show.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve met some wonderfully interesting people while standing in security lines, but the friendships never last. The magic seems to fizzle once they get a look at my Dr. Seuss socks with the curled up toes and awkward stripes.


    • List of X says:

      But if you had acted as a true friend, you could have let them go first, and you’d be the one to judge their sock and underwear choices (because it’s hard to keep the pants on with the belt in the X-ray machine).


  5. This is why I travel almost exclusively by bus. If you’re going to be stripped of your dignity, do it out in the open without the pretense of glamour and elegant surroundings. Walk into any bus terminal in the U.S. and you know exactly what you’re in for. Have you seen the airline TV commercials? You’d think you were about to experience a relaxing day at the spa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • List of X says:

      Yeah, and you’d think every flight goes to the Caribbean or South Pacific, and never to places like Des Moines or Albuquerque (or even back from the Caribbean).
      I don’t think I ever traveled by bus from one city to another – if it’s a few hours drive, I just take my car. There’s very relaxed security and barely any lines.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Carrie Rubin says:

    So that’s why travelers get so much attitude from airline personnel—#4. It all makes perfect sense now. They just want us riled up and on our toes should we need to spring to action. They’re just being proactive. 🙂


  7. Glazed says:

    TSA recently confiscated a bottle of insect repellent from me, when I accidentally left it in my carry-on. So they are also protecting the environment by allowing insects to thrive and spread. This in turn helps to keep frogs well-fed, which is helping to counter the mysterious global frog die-off. In fact, there are benefits all the way up the food chain. If it wasn’t for TSA, perhaps we’d all die of starvation.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amaya says:

    They used an electronic bomb residue sniffer on my young son’s hands, which didn’t detect any bomb residue, but did prompt me to wash his hands, as they did smell mysteriously funky.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. rossmurray1 says:

    Stress kills. Therefore, by increasing stress, they are killing off people at an early age, reducing strain on the health-care system.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. john zande says:

    Let me guess, you had to travel recently 🙂


  11. Nurse Kelly says:

    Hi X! I’m so glad to know now that they look for growing aliens inside us because that explains a lot! And you’re right about the socks – always worry about that while I’m waiting…lol 🙂


  12. Jim Wheeler says:

    I had had my little Swiss Army penknife for more than a decade, having found it useful for all manner of things with its little 1 1/2 inch blade, teeny scissors, screw drivers, tweezers and toothpick. I forgot it was on my keychain when I went through security a couple months ago. I had tossed the keys into the X-ray cart and recovered them with no problem, but on the other side, the bored TSA guy saw the flash of red as I was putting them in my pocket. His eyes gleamed with delight. “Wait, what do we have here?”, he said. As I walked away, steam emitting from my ears, he appeared to be fondling his new toy. Clearly this public interaction has a benefit. It can amuse a small mind while brightening an otherwise very dull day.

    My new Swiss Army penknife is nice. It even has a tiny ball point pen in it. Cost: $32.00.


    • List of X says:

      So maybe your solution would be to paint the knife handle green or blue, something that doesn’t look like a Swiss Army knife. That way, you should be able to go through security with no problem. After all, according to the tests, there’s only a 4% chance they’ll find it.


  13. Huffygirl says:

    My husband who has had knee surgery multiple times, had the audacity to walk through the screening with a soft knee brace on. He was wearing shorts so it wasn’t like he was trying to hide it. They were fit to be tied, pulled him back, wanded him, checked it for residue, the whole 9 yards. I guess that is where all the terrorists hide their weapons.


  14. Gibber says:

    Maybe we should all just become pilots, buy our own planes and fly ourselves. It’s this way in Canada too. The one time I went through security I was in tears because they groped me too much.


  15. Isn’t it marvelous, the way the TSA is doing its part to try and save AMTRAK?.


  16. Elyse says:

    Just wait until we see what they do when an ISIS member tries to get a water bottle through. Just you wait!


  17. Sherry says:

    there is a silver lining to almost everything


  18. The Hook says:

    You rule the list world, X!


  19. I think this is one of the joys of traveled for so long and so many miles, I avoid many of these things. I breeze through TSA. But you are right, the addition of TSA to the airport was a terrible thing. We all wish it resulted in lower costs, it didn’t.


    • List of X says:

      I’m not sure how TSA could have possibly resulted in lower costs – someone has to pay for all these scanners, X-ray machines, and the agents’ salaries. Although, to be fair, some of the agents have tried to pay for themselves by stealing stuff from the passengers’ luggage.


  20. aFrankAngle says:

    I can’t emphasize enough about the importance of #4.


  21. I know more about this now than I did before our trip… dang it…


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