Having been through a good number of TSA checkpoints, I have a pretty good idea of what can trigger a secondary check after a bag has gone through the x-ray machine. This goes for checked bags as well.
I much prefer to have my bags with me as carry on, but on occasion I have items that are not allowed on board - usually too large a quantity of something in liquid form. One such item is my homemade jam.
Jam triggers the checked bag x-ray every time. How do I know? I get the above baggage inspection notification every single time I am bring jam for my family. Filled jam jars look like big black blobs on the x-ray, which automatically triggers a second look. I don't blame them - I would want to know what "the blob" is too.
So for this reason I use a TSA approved lock - like the green one above. A TSA agent can quickly unlock my bag, inspect it, lock it up again and get the bag on it's way.
The last time I flew I also had a number of seasoning mix packets in the outside pocket of the bag. I didn't have a second TSA lock, so a regular lock had to do. No real need to lock it but I didn't want the pocket to accidentally open and spill the ingredients.
These packets triggered a secondary look as well. The result? Check out the gold Samsonite lock above. I knew the lock wasn't compliant, but I wasn't sure how they were handled. Now I know!
The moral of story - use only TSA compliant locks on your checked bags unless of course you want the locks returned to you cut and nicely wrapped in TSA tape.
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