Behind-the-scenes of what triggers TSA luggage inspections

“Giant sandals, sun tan lotion and leftover fried chicken crammed into a suitcase triggered searches Friday of several pieces of checked luggage at Myrtle Beach International Airport. Pretty standard stuff, except for maybe the fried chicken, says Mark J. Howell, regional spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration.

Myrtle Beach tourists are more likely to pack jars of sand, which can also result in a searched bag.

Or relish. And, lots of golf clubs, Howell said.

It’s not always so much what’s in a piece of luggage that will flag an inspector, but the density of the item, and how the bag is packed, Howell said.

“Over-packed bags will tend to show as density on the machine,” Howell said. “If you pack super tight, if you’re sitting on top of your suitcase to try and get it closed.”

The TSA official took area media on a behind-the-scenes tour Friday of the inline baggage system at Myrtle Beach International Airport, to show how the belts and conveyors move baggage from the ticketing area through security and to the aircraft.

“This is something the public doesn’t get to see every day,” Howell said.

Currently, about 2,200 bags a day go through the airport, while 3,300 a day will ride the conveyer belts daily in July.

Howell said only a small percentage of those are searched by hand, and passengers are notified if their suitcases have been opened.”

Read More