Travel

A Map Of Stupid Things People Have Said To US Airport Security Officials

The first rule of air travel in the modern world is to avoid making jokes about bombs at the security checkpoint, but that doesn’t stop people coming out with comments like “I have a torpedo in my brassiere”. We’ve mapped some of the most ridiculous offenders.

Since October 7 2011, the official blog of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has included a semi-regular ‘People say the darnedest things’ section, noting some of the “inappropriate” comments . The listing doesn’t claim to be exhaustive, but there have been enough comments logged over the past year to make it worth putting them on a map. Click on any city to see what was said, who it was said to, where it happened, a link to the source blog and (in some cases) additional details about what went down. You can also search by airport name.








The vast majority of comments are variations on “I have a bomb in my bag”, but a few do stand out for extra creativity:

  • “If I miss my flight, I will come back and strangle you.”
  • “I hope the residue doesn’t show up on the test.”
  • “I will get on a flight even if I have to blow up the airport and call myself a terrorist.”
  • “I very well could have two bombs in my breasts.”
  • “Do you want me to put my explosive belt on top of my explosive shoes?”
  • “I have a torpedo in my brassiere.”
  • “Why are you harassing this innocent woman when you just let me through with a tube of plastic explosives?”
  • “You better check me close, I am about to blow.”

The obvious objection to stopping people who say “I have a bomb” is that anyone who was planning a terrorist attack would be highly unlikely to publicise the fact. Nonetheless, these kinds of remarks do put security scanners (who in the US are already busy enough detecting loaded firearms) in a no-win situation. If they pay extra attention to people who make those remarks, they’re killjoys. If they ignore them and a bomb does end up on a plane, they’ll be accused of not doing their job. The result: humourlessness wins.

It’s also evident that the TSA (and similar agencies) do recognise that other factors are often at play. Consider this example (which isn’t on our map as no location was specified):

You can imagine the officer’s surprise when a man walked up to them at the travel document checking area and stated “I have eight bombs on me.” The police report stated that the passenger “may” have been intoxicated.

There’s no equivalent official source tracking similar comments in Australia, but the same approach is definitely in place. If you want to get through airport security speedily, wisecracks aren’t the way to go. You might think that’s a stupid rule, but you ignore it at your peril.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman is never in any mood to joke at airports. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


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