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6 Things That Totally Annoy TSA Agents And What To Do Instead



Navigating through airport security can often be a stressful part of traveling. Understanding what frustrates TSA agents and how to avoid these common pitfalls can make the process smoother and more pleasant for everyone involved. To help travelers enhance their airport experience, here are 15 things that typically annoy TSA agents, along with practical advice on what you can do instead. These tips not only aim to reduce the strain on security personnel but also help you prepare better, ensuring a hassle-free journey through airport checkpoints. From packing strategies to behavior at the security line, these insights will guide you in being a considerate and efficient traveler.

Overpacking Carry-on Bags

  • Annoyance: Overstuffed bags are difficult to scan and often require additional checks.
  • Do Instead: Pack lightly and neatly, ensuring electronics and liquids are easily accessible, and use packing cubes or organizers to keep items compact and visible for easier scanning.

Not Following Liquid Rules

  • Annoyance: Confiscating items that exceed the liquid limit slows down the line.
  • Do Instead: Remember the 3-1-1 rule and place your liquids bag on top or in an easily accessible part of your carry-on for quick removal.

Wearing Metal Accessories

  • Annoyance: Setting off the metal detector with belts, jewelry, or watches causes delays.
  • Do Instead: Remove metal items before reaching the scanner and consider wearing minimal jewelry and using a plastic or fabric belt.

Arguing Over Prohibited Items

  • Annoyance: Debating with agents about prohibited items holds up security.
  • Do Instead: Check the TSA’s list of prohibited items beforehand and consult the TSA website or app if in doubt.

Ignoring Instructions

  • Annoyance: Repeating instructions for trays, electronics, and shoes can be frustrating.
  • Do Instead: Listen carefully, follow the guidance of TSA agents promptly, and watch passengers ahead for cues.

Using Phones in Security Lines

  • Annoyance: Being distracted by phones can slow down the process.
  • Do Instead: Stay off your phone, pay attention, and keep your phone in an easily accessible pocket.

Unprepared for Security Checks

  • Annoyance: Fumbling for ID and boarding pass at the last minute delays everyone.
  • Do Instead: Have your ID and boarding pass ready and use a travel wallet or specific compartment in your bag.

Inappropriate Jokes

  • Annoyance: Jokes about security matters are taken seriously and can lead to further checks.
  • Do Instead: Keep the mood light, avoid jokes about security, and remember to respect TSA agents.

Not Managing Children Well

  • Annoyance: Unruly or unsupervised children can complicate the security process.
  • Do Instead: Prepare and guide children on what to expect and discuss the process beforehand to ease anxieties.

Blocking Conveyor Belts

  • Annoyance: Leaving bags on the conveyor belt after scanning causes backups.
  • Do Instead: Move belongings to the end of the belt promptly and gather them quickly, reorganizing away from the belt.

Ignoring Personal Hygiene

  • Annoyance: Poor hygiene, especially when removing shoes, can be unpleasant.
  • Do Instead: Practice good hygiene, wear socks, and consider carrying wet wipes to freshen up before security.

Complaining Loudly

  • Annoyance: Vocal complaints about lines or procedures create a negative environment.
  • Do Instead: Stay calm and patient, and provide constructive feedback after clearing security.

Bringing Large Amounts of Food

  • Annoyance: Excessive food items can require additional screening.
  • Do Instead: Pack a reasonable amount of snacks and separate them from other belongings for quicker inspection.

Forgetting Items in Trays

  • Annoyance: Left-behind items slow down the process and create extra work.
  • Do Instead: Double-check your tray and pockets before leaving, and immediately check for essential items after collecting them.

Ignoring Baggage Claim Etiquette

  • Annoyance: Crowding around the baggage claim makes it difficult for everyone to access their bags.
  • Do Instead: Step back from the carousel and approach only when your bag appears; designate one person to retrieve bags if traveling in a group.


Being mindful of these 15 common annoyances for TSA agents and adopting the suggested practices can significantly improve your experience at airport security checkpoints. Not only does this awareness lead to a more efficient and stress-free screening process, but it also fosters a respectful and cooperative environment for both travelers and security staff. By preparing appropriately, respecting the rules, and maintaining a considerate demeanor, you contribute to a smoother, quicker, and more pleasant travel experience for yourself and those around you. Remember, a little preparation and understanding can go a long way in making air travel more enjoyable for everyone involved.

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