So sometimes when I’m traveling I feel like why does my luggage always get searched by the TSA agents. And here’s what I have found after some research.
Basically, it’s because there is an unknown object and they need to inspect it to know what it is. The unknown must become known.
The reason why they might want to search your luggage is that they can’t tell what’s inside your bag from the X-ray maybe because something might be blocking the view like a dense metal object, a big belt buckle for example or it just looks suspicious. And for that reason, they need to check what’s inside the luggage.
Everything that might seem unusual or suspicious needs to be inspected, so make sure everything you pack is clearly visible what it is in the X-ray.
Some common items inspected in your luggage
Some common items that are inspected in your luggage are:
- Dense food items such as salt, sugar, flour, hot sauce bottles, peanut butter, tubes like toothpaste, large bottles such as liquid bottles. Remove the food items and place them on the bin before the X-ray
- Electronics such as laptops, large battery packs because they might be suspicious for explosives. For example, if you always have a laptop in your luggage and gets inspected that might be the problem. Items that are very dense can be hard to see through on the X-ray and might need a closer look. For example shoes with thick rubber soles, place those shoes on the conveyor belt instead if you can.
- Everything that might look like you are hiding something like metal containers or inside like a roll of magazines for example.
- Most importantly be aware of the rules and follow them to pack accordingly then your chances of avoiding getting searched is a lot higher.
When packaging think for yourself if this might look suspicious and try to pack it so it’s obvious what it is. For example, if you pack down some headphones with cables coil the cables close to the headphones so it doesn’t look like the cables are connected to anything and that it clearly shows it’s just headphone cables.
How to avoid getting your luggage searched every time
Make sure to pack everything clearly and laid out so they can easily tell what’s inside the bag and what it is. For example, if you have a camera you can group all things together such as tripod, objectives and have to close to the camera so they can see the context and reference quickly what the item might be.
Basically, it should be easy to see what it is and think of what items might look suspicious and pack them so it avoids confusion.
Other reasons why you might get inspected are that you maybe are on a list for previous criminal activities or depending on how you dress it might seem that you are suspicious to hide something for example big loose clothing to hide stuff it might make you suspicious. So the appearance is might something you want to think of, you don’t want to seem sketchy.
Try to remove your laptop, tablets, electronic devices, foods & snacks and take out all liquids from your luggage and put it in a separate tray before doing the x-ray. Such as demonstrated in this video:
Remember if they do a luggage check you are allowed to watch the process and also politely ask questions about the screening process and why the decision to check your bag.
Only a small percentage of luggage gets checked manually by hand, and you can always find more answers at the TSA site.
Also if your bag gets inspected and opened they’ll often leave a note saying “we have inspected your bag”.
The bottom line is that they are always doing it for everyone’s protection so if they inspect your bag and you have nothing to hide then there’s no need to worry even though it can be annoying and stressful. It’s all done to keep the traveling for us all safe.