The Real Mystery Is Why Almost a Quarter of a Million Accounts Follow the TSA on Twitter.

Monday, February 4th, 2019

If you like seeing eight consecutive drives end in a punt, then Super Bowl LIII was the game for you! And if you attended the game, and purchased a program, you should apparently not check it in your luggage on the way home:


[Via a tweet from @TSA]

That’s really weird. We’re talking about a publication printed with ink and paper. What exactly could be going on here? And how is it safe enough to fly, but not to be checked?

These questions led me to the TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” list. There, I found just nine items which are permitted in carry-on bags, but not in checked luggage. I’ve reproduced them below, exactly as the TSA’s poorly edited list shows them:

  • Butane Curling Irons (cordless)

  • Electronic Cigarettes and Vaping Devices

  • Lithium batteries with more than 100 watt hours

  • Live Coral

  • Live Fish

  • Medically Necessary Personal Oxygen

  • Power Banks

  • Power Charger

  • Safety Matches

The TSA’s tweet doesn’t show the full program, so I had little choice but to assume it contains a small compartment with a goldfish inside of it, like Disco Stu’s disco shoes:

Cartoon shoes with fish in the heels, sadly dead
As seen in “The Twisted World of Marge Simpson

Eventually, I discovered the real issue. An earlier tweet with the same content also included a semi-helpful reply from TSA spokesperson Mark Howell. Under the atrocious username of “@TSAMedia_MarkH”, Howell explained the reasons for this instruction:

The programs are produced with materials that causes our screening tech to alarm, requiring a physical bag search by an officer. Carrying it with you to the security checkpoint and placing it in a bin will allow us to visibly inspect it without having to do a bag search.

If false positives are getting triggered by a Super Bowl program, perhaps better screening equipment is in order, rather than trying to get tens of thousands of people not to check an item that shouldn’t be an issue.


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