There’s a fine line between an overzealous a**hole and a security guard just trying to do their job. During red-eye layovers, said line becomes blurry, as your dehydrated body wants nothing more than to zonk out in the departure gate—but is delayed by a pair of latex gloves going through every inch of your bag.
Before you resign yourself to the fact that life ain’t fair, remember this: getting searched by airport security isn’t as ‘random’ as most people believe. Yes: they carry out a quota of searches, some of which are completely arbitrary. However you can still reduce your chances; by not making the following mistakes.
Buying Your Ticket Last Minute
We know, we know, sometimes this is unavoidable. But your one way ticket to a silent retreat in the Himalayas, or a rave-cave in Ibiza, could put you under suspicion—especially if you bought it last minute (or, god forbid, at the counter).
Having A Beard
As an open minded, fashion conscious website, it pains us to call your designer stubble a mistake. There are some situations, howevs, where being the proud owner of something you post about incessantly on Facebook (whether it’s a beard or your kids) isn’t such a good thing. Whether this is down to subconscious racism, the fact that it makes it easier for you to obscure/change your identity, or because the jealous TSA on the other side of the counter is unable to grow more than a bit of bum fluff—the conclusion remains the same. Shave.
Not Being A Perfect Physical Specimen
According to US News & World Report, since December 2001, when Richard Reid (unsuccessfully) attempted to detonate a bomb hidden in his shoe onboard a flight from Paris to Miami, airport officials “have paid particular attention” to passenger footwear, meaning that if you have noticeably sore feet or gel-innersoles you make yourself more of a target. Having diabetic/hyperthyroid medicine, or surgical implants also increase your chances of a pat down.
Your Laptop Won’t Turn On
Could be a bomb in disguise. Make sure it’s charged. Guilty until proven innocent. Etc.
Talking Loudly About Bombs
As a proudly naive 12 year old, trying desperately to be funny, I once made a joke about plastic explosives in a Hong Kong security checkpoint that would have earned me a full body cavity search anywhere in the US of A. Not smart.
Not Complying With Protocol
Yes, we know it’s annoying to put everything in ziplock bags, and no, you probably couldn’t have hijacked the plane with that pair of confiscated nail-clippers, but not preparing your suitcase in advance, taking your electronics out of your bag before it gets scanned or taking off your steel capped boots before walking through the metal detector increases your chances of being singled out for extra attention. Not for being a security risk; for being annoying. True story: even ask ex TSA agents.
Criticising The Screening Machines
Despite former Transportation Security Administration Officers like this one speaking out against the uselessness of full body scanners (“the machines were good at detecting just about everything besides cleverly hidden explosives and guns”) complaining about them is a sure fire way to draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
“The only thing more absurd than how poorly the full-body scanners performed was the incredible amount of time the machines wasted for everyone.”
Makes them think you are nervous, have something to hide, etc. Invest in some deodorant.
Travelling Alone (If You Are A Man)
Possibly not as powerful a force on social media as the #metoo movement, the #igotrandomlyselected campaign is worthy of some consideration for globetrotting bachelors. Put simply, it’s a known fact: single men travelling with little baggage raise more red flags than any other demographic. If you reckon getting “randomly selected” holds you back in life more than a partner and kids; join Hello Cupid.