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Unique Items that Set Off TSA Airport Security Scanner at Check-In

No one wants to get delayed while checking in at the airport, however many travelers trip themselves up when they go thru the TSA checkpoint due to unique items that catch the attention of the TSA scanners.  Here are list of those items so you can take pack accordingly before you reach the airport.


Nothing escapes the metal-detecting prowess of airport security systems—not even something as minuscule as a foil wrapper. Many manufacturers of chewing gum, candy, and cigarettes have caught on and made the transition from metallic wrap to paper, but the hold-outs can put a kink in your smooth passage through airport checkpoints.


Even though headbands (like bulky clothing and hats) are not prohibited, sporting them may lead to additional screening. The reason is simple: Metal constitutes the frame of many headbands and, consequently, triggers the detector. Avoid being pulled aside by sending your hair accessory through security ahead of you on the X-ray belt.


The TSA is naturally more focused on detecting potential explosives than in analyzing the contents of your personal minibar, but when it comes to liquors, the rules are based on size and packaging: Respectively, alcohol must be less than 3.4 ounces, bottled in original container, and contained in a one-quart sized, zip-top bag.  As long as you follow the 3-1-1 requirements for liquids, you should be ok.


Don't expect to get onto a plane with a snow globe. Believe it or not, the liquid contents of most crystal balls surpass the 3.4-ounce limit and, consequently, aren't allowed in carry-ons. In fact, back in October an abandoned package containing a snow globe appeared so suspicious that it caused the evacuation of Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.  There's no way around it—snow globes need to be checked.


As an aerosol product, some inhalers are a cause for concern because at first glance they may seem to violate the "3-1-1" rule for liquids, gels, and aerosols (limit of 3.4 ounces, packed in one quart-size, see-through, zip-top bag). Of course, given that these objects are a medical must for some travelers, they are exempt from restriction To avoid unwanted questioning, inform TSA officers in advance if they're carrying an inhaler. It helps speed things up if your medications are properly labeled.


The TSA swears this shouldn't be an issue, but we've heard plenty of tales from women who insist that the metal in an underwire bra has triggered a secondary "wanding" after passing through the metal detector. In some cases, a rogue under wire can and has led to a closer inspection by a female agent in a private room.  The answer, then, may be to pack the metallic lingerie in your checked bags and sport a more comfortable model while in flight.

Our site contains over 100 pages of travel safety tips and security tips that are useful for any traveler. You will find tips involving luggage theft, avoiding pickpockets, laptop theft, hotel burglary, and airplane, train, automobile, and boat travel crimes.