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Fourteen Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of TSA Agents


Image: Ralf Roletschek

Whenever I travel by air, I'm always relieved after having been cleared by the TSA. Being able to walk to my gate knowing that the often annoying "exam" is over allows me to relax and get on with things, knowing that the possibility of being manhandled is over. Yet I wonder how many times the agents themselves "prepared" as they saw me coming. Could I have been marked as a risky hairdo, an annoyance, or worse, a "hot" passenger? According to this TSA secrets article by mental_floss:  

2. THEY HAVE CODE WORDS FOR ATTRACTIVE (AND ANNOYING) PASSENGERS.

Because TSOs are usually in close proximity to passengers, some checkpoints develop a vocabulary of code words that allows them to speak freely without offending anyone. “Code talk for attractive females was the most common,” Harrington says. An employee might say “hotel papa” to alert others to an appealing traveler heading their way—the “h” is for “hot.” Others might assign a code number, like 39, and call it out. Harrington was also informed by a supervisor that he could signal for a prolonged screening for an annoying passenger if Harrington told him that the traveler was “very nice.”  

and as for the 'do:  

3. FANCY HAIRDOS ARE A SECURITY RISK.

Any passenger coming through with an elaborate hairdo—either carefully braided hair or the kind of up-do found on women headed for a wedding—means additional inspection will be required, because piled-up hair can conceivably conceal a weapon.

Read more behind-the-scenes secrets of the TSA at mental_floss. 


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