TSA: Consistently inconsistent

The only thing consistent about the TSA is their inconsistency.

Toothpaste? I have (had) a 5.2 ounce tube of toothpaste with approximately 1 oz remaining – made it through 8 screenings, was confiscated last week.

Bags? I have a small purse-sized bag that clips under the wheelchair. Twice in the last couple of months I forgot to unclip it and put it through the X-ray with my other bags. No one noticed, despite the fact that I was frisked, swabbed, and the TSO ran her hand under the wheelchair.

Gels not in the plastic baggie? 100% success rate in leaving my tiny tube of Blistex in my wheelchair bag, even though it’s X-rayed.

Shoes? Let’s see – shoes must come off, shoes may stay on, you must take off your own shoes, we will take off your shoes for you.

Frisking? I’ve had everything from a sort of waving of the hands vaguely over my body to a search so thorough that she palpated under my armpits and asked me if I was getting sick.

My current favorite exchange, from Thursday:

TSO, standing over me with the swabbing wand prior to the search: “Are you comfortable with the procedure?”

Me: “I’m familiar with the procedure.”



  1. yasmín

    I’m dreading my next trip. The San Antonio airport just changed their procedures again, and the last time they grabbed my stuff, told me to go somewhere else, and no one was keeping an eye on my things. Of course they were pissy when I refused to move until I was sure my purse and stuff wouldn’t be stolen. It’s insane.

  2. Katja (Post author)

    Well, I’m off again tonight for a one day trip. I went to Walgreen’s (ugh) and found a little plastic tube of Crest (I hate Crest). I squished out all the Crest and washed it out (warm water works better than cold), then refilled it with Tom’s of Maine.

    I can’t believe the stupid stuff the TSA is making me do.

  3. Charles-A. Rovira

    I’m about to take off for Dallas and I just wonder what horrors I will encounter at Newark airport.

    If it wasn’t for the obscenity laws, I’d fly naked, holding nothing but my papers and an evil wicked grin.

    (Think of the time savings. :-)

    We’re going to buy everything for the trip once we land and leave it all behind at my sisters.

  4. Katja

    Oh, I am totally ready to whip off my sweater (with nothing but bra underneath) next time I am told to do so.

    What an exhibitionist.

  5. mdmhvonpa

    “I’m familiar with the procedure.”


  6. Katja (Post author)

    Thank you.

    Yesterday I had to get my baggie pre-approved before getting in the regular line. This is the same airport I’ve flown out of 4 times since Thanksgiving.

  7. Tim Moore

    Until this year, I hadn’t flown for years so when I took a flight to orlando, I was dreading it. However, there and back everything went fine. Oddly enough (odd since I hadn’t flown in 10 years), I’ve flown to three destinations this and by the third trip I really began to notice the inconsistency you mentioned. In fact, some of the procedures that were used or not used at various airports seemed to be based on the current mood of the TSA person. Scary way to do things.

  8. Katja (Post author)

    Some say the inconsistency is planned, to further throw off terrorists. I don’t buy it, since it first makes no sense and second requires more organization and smarts than I’m willing to credit TSA with.


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