Last week I attended the final launch of the Space Shuttle program, the launch of Atlantis on STS-135. While packing for the trip I grabbed a change purse full of nickels and dimes to burn up on the numerous tolls around Orlando. I had no idea how problematic this change purse was going to be.
My “change purse” was actually a leather bag with a zippered top intended to keep the change organized. I really didn’t think much about throwing it in my TSA approved backpack. I have my routine down for going through security at the airport. I place my watch, wallet, and cell phone in my backpack. Then my liquids and shoes go in one of the bins. Since my bag is TSA approved, I don’t have to take my laptop out. I also keep my chargers, USB cables, and other wires in an old mic bag so they are all together. Cables strewn out inside a bag will almost always get your bag rummaged through.
This system has kept me from being searched for over 2 years, no checks, searches, explosive swabs, nothing. That is until last week. My backpack came through the x-ray and the lady told me there was a change purse in there and the x-ray couldn’t see what was behind it. I told her right where the change purse was but she couldn’t find it and in the process unpacked the entire bag.
I don’t envy the TSA folks their jobs but I told her specifically where it was as that is all they needed to x-ray but she never found it. After unpacking most of the bag, she sent everything through again and then said it was ok. She handed me my bag and I put my hand in and pulled out the change purse.
She said it would be best to put the change purse in the bin with my shoes and liquids as the x-ray can’t see through all the change. I travel frequently and this was the first time I had heard that. I asked her why it wasn’t posted anywhere and she didn’t have an answer.
I got to relive this story each time I pulled change out and paid for various tolls around Orlando but I learned something new – if you have a mess of change pull it out and send it through with your shoes. This is one of those unspoken rules you will only learn through personal experience or learning from the experience of others.
Here’s to the next 2 years and hopefully no more bag searches.