Sunday, January 26, 2014

TSA Fashion Enemy #1 – Which Clothing Item is It?

Which clothing item do you think would cause the most grief during a TSA full body scan? Underwire bra? Apparently not. Platform heels? Only if breaking your ankle (or neck) sprinting down the airport escalator to catch the last shuttle train counts. No, fellow air travelers, based on personal experience, the #1 fashion nemesis of the TSA’s screening process is…(drumroll, please!)…an ordinary sweater woven with metallic threads (sad, but true!).

“Ma’am, can you come with me and wait here?” is not what I expected to hear from the Denver airport TSA screener upon completion of a full body scan this past March. Caught off guard by the request, I glanced over my shoulder to view 4 to 5 orange target area alerts on the scanner’s scan of my upper body image. Initial thoughts ranged from “OMG, I broke the bloody scanner” to “Wow, I didn’t think a few metallic threads would freak out a scanner that way!” At that point I was handed off to another TSA screener who kept muttering something about her information screen not updating properly. A few minutes and complete body wanding later, this same screener took me over to another station. At that point a thorough hand swabbing test was administered (obviously looking for metallic thread residue at that point).Thankfully the hand swabbing results tested negative and I soon was walking toward my A Concourse gate.

While reading in the gate seating area, a pesky thought crossed my mind. Could this recent screening experience be repeated going through security when transferring flights at London Heathrow? Determined not to put my concerns to the actual test at LHR (and risk upsetting the airport screeners and possibly London airport security), a short wardrobe change at the nearest Denver airport restroom solved the problem. The remaining security screenings for my journey were, fortunately, uneventful.

So, dear fellow travelers, a major life lesson learned from this trip will stay with me forever as well as serve as a warning to others. DON”T wear clothing with metallic threads through TSA scanners unless you don’t mind some extra unwanted attention!

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