The intrepid and resourceful Travelling Gourmet TM explains what Security Screening is all about so you can…
MAKE your way to your flight seamlessly with minimum hassle and inconvenience.
What are they looking for in a Security Screening?
Xray image of a Beretta 92FS 9mm in a bag
Having travelled far and wide on special assignment I can let you know that there are three components needed for any IED ot Improvised Explosive Device:
- Triggering mechanism – This is what sets off the bomb. There are lots of ways to go about it from what I understand. It could be a timer, or something pressure sensitive, or via some remote radio signal, etc. The key thing we need to know is that triggering mechanisms are generally electronic.
2. Detonator – A detonator is a usually small amount of highly volatile explosive material that is easily lit off and provides the boost to detonate the main explosive charge.
3. The main explosive itself – The main explosive is some compound that is relatively stable so that it can be transported in high enough quantities to cause a significant explosion when ignited by a detonator. Explosives come in a variety of different materials and densities from liquids through to solids. Quite often plastic explosive like C4.
Because all three of these things need to be present in a bomb, we can use this info to pack our luggage so that it is obviously not a danger and is more quickly screened and cleared by TSA and other Airport Security Screening especially by X Ray.
X-Ray Screening of carry on luggage
The primary luggage screening tool typically is some sort of x-ray machine. So when we pack luggage we should think about it in terms of how the stuff we are packing might look to an x-ray machine on the monitor.
When I talk about “how things look” here, I mean how do they appear on the monitor screen when viewed with some type of x-ray machine.
Here are some common suitcase items that could potentially be seen as triggering device components:
Connecting cables and wires
Basically when it comes to triggering mechanisms and their components we’re talking about anything that is electronic or electrical.
Camera tripods and selfie sticks can also look like gun barrels on the X ray machine
Explosive Material Look-a-likes
There are a lot of things that often get packed in our suitcases that have similar densities to potential explosive materials. Here are some of the more common items we’re talking about:
Shoes (especially shoe soles)
Hair care products
Food stuffs (like peanut butter for example)
Cakes like Durian Kueh – a type of cake made from the Durian fruit. It looks like C4 platique.
The list is pretty long, so I’ve just included some of the more obvious ones. Basically we’re talking about anything that has a density of a liquid, gel, paper or soft plastic.
If there is nothing in our suitcase that could be a component of a trigger that is right next to or physically touching anything that might be the same consistency of a potential explosive then our bag can usually be cleared automatically by one of the TSA machines without needing to be opened up by one of the TSA employees.
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.
If you follow these tips your Security Screening should be hassle free!