17 Common Mistakes People Make That Really Annoy TSA Agents

Traveling can be an overwhelming experience, and one of the most stressful parts is going through TSA. Travelers commonly make mistakes at security, and it’s usually TSA agents who have to deal with this. To make your next travel experience easier, we’re revealing the 17 common mistakes people make that really annoy TSA agents.

Scanning yourself before your children

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Your children should always walk through the scanners ahead of you, as you cannot supervise them if they are behind you. It can also cause issues for TSA agents if a parent needs additional checks before their child has made it through the scanners, so keep this in mind!

Not removing liquids

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Airport security usually requires you to remove liquids from your carry-on, yet travelers commonly forget this. This leads to major delays at security as liquids that are left in your carry-on flag up for manual inspection. Thankfully, new scanners are slowly being rolled out which Conde Nast Traveler reports will stop this problem for good.

Wearing too much jewelry

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Jewelry needs to be removed before going through the scanners at TSA, and the more you wear, the longer your security experience will be. TSA agents find this extremely annoying as it’s unnecessary and holds up the queue. The solution is simple – wear minimal jewelry on your travel day.

Ignoring instructions

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In all airports, you will find instructions everywhere that explain confusing processes, such as security checks. Once you arrive at TSA, agents actively tell you what you need to do, so understandably, they get annoyed when these are ignored. Pay attention, and your experience will be stress-free.

Carrying prohibited items

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The website of every airline and airport details prohibited items that are not allowed in your carry-on. This is also well-advertised in airports, yet an absurd number of prohibited items are confiscated every year. For example, TSA released that in the first half of 2023 alone,  a shocking 3,251 firearms were confiscated.

Leaving electronics in your bag

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Electronics such as laptops and phones need to be scanned separately from your carry-on when going through airport TSA. This is common knowledge by now, so it’s a major annoyance for TSA agents when so many people ignore it when being screened. It’s yet another huge cause for travel delays!

Change in your pockets

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The reason we remove jewelry at security is because metallic objects flag up on the scanners, and this includes loose change. It’s easy to forget we have change in our pockets, but try to remember next time. Otherwise, you’ll need a manual search which will be frustrating for both you and the TSA agent.

Undeclared money

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While it is perfectly legal to carry cash through the airport, large sums of money that haven’t been declared raises suspicion at TSA, as Alternative Airlines explains. It’s easy to declare your cash, so not doing so when you have nothing to hide only makes the lives of TSA agents more difficult.

The joker

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Many TSA agents are friendly, and you can have an innocent joke with them if the situation permits it, but you should never joke about serious matters. Joking about the likes of terrorism and bombs is taken very seriously by the TSA, and it may lead to you being interrogated.

Lack of organization

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By now, you should know that certain items need to be removed and scanned separately at security, so not considering this when packing your carry-on can seriously irk TSA agents. Simply pack your liquids and electronics in an organized and easily accessible way, and you can avoid this annoying problem entirely.

Wearing difficult shoes

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Unless you have TSA PreCheck, you will be required to remove your shoes at airport security, so why not make this easy for yourself and choose comfortable shoes that are easy to remove? Slip-ons are recommended by TSA as they prevent delays from needing to unzip, untie, or unbuckle your footwear.

Unsupervised children

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While TSA agents are human and understand that children will be children, you need to ensure you have a certain level of supervision and control over your kids. Out-of-control children are one of the biggest frustrations at TSA and can also irritate other travelers in the line.

Exceeding the liquid allowance

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In addition to requiring them to be scanned separately, TSA has liquid restrictions for a reason, and if they exceed this allowance, products will be seized, and you’ll annoy the agents. According to Travel + Leisure, the only exceptions to the liquid allowance are breast milk, infant formula, baby food, and liquid medical prescriptions.

Arguing with TSA agents

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There is no need to argue with TSA agents – what they say goes. If you find yourself having additional security checks, it’s best to remain calm and accept it for what it is. If you cause a scene, you’ll only annoy the agents, arouse suspicion, and risk being removed from the airport.

Petting the TSA dog

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Any TSA dogs you see at the airport are actively working and should not be petted – no matter how cute they are. The dogs are strictly trained to avoid interaction and carry out their task, so attempting any communication with the dog annoys both the dog and the handler.

Repacking luggage at the scanners

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The luggage bins used for scanning are portable for a reason – there are benches behind security where you can repack your bag. Despite this, many people choose to repack their luggage at the scanning belt end, causing congestion. This is a major pet peeve of agents – don’t be that person!

Leaving belongings behind

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Finally, it is not the job of TSA agents to chase you down and make sure your belongings are returned to you. You need to keep track of where your belongings are at all times and retrieve them all before leaving security. Keep this in mind, and you’ll stay on good terms with the TSA.

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