airplane
Leaving Halifax

Some of us get a little more attention than others when walking through airport security. Of course, this happens a lot more often in the US than in some other countries.

The TSA has a bad reputation, and for good reason with so much of the negative press it receives. I have to admit that I have had some almost pleasant experiences with the TSA at Newark airport (yes, really). There have been other experiences in other US airports that were less than pleasant–fortunately, none of them ended with a search of various orifices or a visit to a lonely dark room.

This is how it sometimes feels going through airport security (from MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore)
This is how it sometimes feels going through airport security (from MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore)

Have you ever wondered why you of all people got singled out “randomly” for that special search and friendly pat-down? Well, wonder no more.

The Washington Post reported that an anonymous source released the secret list of behaviors the TSA notices that could get you that free colonoscopy.

All you need is four points on the board to receive your visit to the dank room where authorities are sure to forget about you for hours while you desperately need to use a toilet because you drank a liter of water in an attempt to empty that bottle before going through security so you could fill it back up at a water fountain before boarding your flight because airlines no longer even give you a cup of water.

Some airports outside the US try to help travelers relax (Incheon)
Some airports outside the US try to help travelers relax (Incheon)

The TSA actually looks at your face to see if you’ve recently shaved a beard.

That’s bad news for people like me who need to shave almost every day. I need to remember to shave the day BEFORE I travel through the US again to avoid having one point against me.

And if you think making jokes or complaints about the long security lines or ineptness of some security staff will go unnoticed, think again. It’s just another sign that you might deserve that special treatment.

Seriously, the TSA assigns one point for people who appear stressed.

I wonder if the TSA agents can tell the difference between stress, frustration, and extreme annoyance? Do they assign points to passengers who roll their eyes at drone-like instructions security personnel excrete while all we want to do is get through the metal detector and grab some overpriced food before our flight?

And if you think you should appear happy about your ensuing vacation, think again. Whistling in line will earn you another point. All I can think of is Jasper teaching Lisa Simpson’s class; he explains all the behavior that will result in “a paddlin’.”

They’ll even assign points to passengers in a rush to make their flight.

Good thing security at Incheon airport didn’t have this system in place–I arrived three hours early and had to wait two hours just to check in for my flight; they put me in an express security line so I could get to my gate with about 10 minutes before departure (and no, I wasn’t flying on a holiday).

While the TSA relies on these indicators to keep all the travelers safe and agitated, according to the Washington Post article, “The Government Accountability Office questioned the usefulness of behavioral detection techniques in a 2014 report, saying it found no solid evidence that they are effective.”

This makes the process seem less crappy
This makes the process seem less crappy

I prefer the polite approach to airport security. Some of the friendliest staff I’ve encountered was at Changi Airport in Singapore–security personnel actually smiled! Hell, they even have these nice sectioned bins for you to place your laptop, phone, and change (and they didn’t mind me taking a photo of it; they were a little surprised to hear that I’d never seen anything like it before).

What behaviors do you think should be on the list? What common behaviors are likely to get you some special attention before your next trip?

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