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The Harmless Items That Could Trigger A Security Search Of Checked Luggage

Lifehacker Australia logo Lifehacker Australia 2/15/2017 Stephanie Lee

© Provided by Allure Media Pty Ltd Image by Dr Colleen_Morgan.

We all know to avoid packing the obvious things that could make airport security physically search your bag, but sometimes it might still be singled out despite your best efforts. Here's what airport security looks for and how to pack your bags accordingly to reduce the likelihood that they search your bag.

Travel can be dehumanising, which is why it's important to be the best human you can be as you slog through airport security. Even if you can't make the experience of getting herded and scrutinised fun, you can take simple steps to at least avoid adding to the unpleasantness."]

Your bag has to go through a detailed X-ray scan, so as the article on New Creations suggests, think about how your everyday items could appear to a person looking for threats on an X-ray machine. The following list are the items that look like part of an explosive device and could trigger a search by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), America's airline security, though they're good to consider no matter where you're flying:

  • Personal electronics
  • Hair driers
  • Curling irons
  • Electric razors
  • iPods / Music players
  • Connecting cables and wires
  • Battery chargers
  • Shoes (especially shoe soles)
  • Books
  • Toiletries
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Hair care products
  • Paper reports
  • Lotions
  • Perfumes
  • Food stuffs (peanut butter, tortillas, burritos and so on) 

This isn't a complete list, but basically you should be thinking about "anything that has a density of a liquid, gel, paper or soft plastic". Knowing this, you can be more strategic about how you pack your checked bags:

The key is to pack your suitcase in such a way that we keep anything that might appear to be a triggering device physically separated from anything that might be mistaken for explosive material. That means we need to keep some distance in our luggage between our consumer electronics and electrical devices and any of those things which has a similar density to potential explosives.

Fortunately we can use our clothes to pack in between them and provide that physical separation. In the TSA screening machines clothes are obviously not either component so you can use your clothes to provide the physical separation you want to expedite the screening process.

The author has noted that following this has dramatically reduced the likelihood of the TSA searching his bags.

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