TSA and the Little Sequined Top

My wife has a sequined top that she has worn while traveling a few times. I don’t believe there is anything seriously metallic in the sequins and it has made its way thru a number of metal detectors. On a recent trip all hell seemed to break out over this top.

While we have never paid for pre-clearance we usually get pre-cleared on our boarding passes (not really sure why). Last October while passing thru the TSA Pre check my wife was directed to go thru the scanner. Feet on the marks, hands above your head and wait, something has gone wrong. It seemed the agent scanned her several times and now she is pulled aside for a thorough search. What went wrong? She was wearing that top!

After a little research we have discovered that TSA screening devices have a lot of issues with some types of women’s clothes. That splash of gold print on a T-Shirt can contain enough metal to set off the metal detector. The same with attached beads. Sequins can literally blind a scanner. Since often these things are part of the fabric, passing a wand over you cannot determine if it is the top you’re wearing or something concealed under it. Time for the pat-down.

A comment Submitted by Cindy M found on the TSA blog from Jan 2018 – When the scanners were introduced I believed they were an improvement. Now however, I see that the machines don’t spot real problems. Instead they seem to be confused by a variety of normal things such as sequins, metal, or other sorts of embellishments on clothing.

Why is it I\we have to dress for the TSA?! Actually you don’t but you can expect to be delayed and/or inconvenienced.  Especially if you ignore some simple tips that help TSA do their job efficiently. They do post a lot of information online that can help avoid these sort of issues. Unfortunately as of now sequins aren’t one of those tips.

 

 

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TSA – That’s Good to Know

 

After The Sequined Top post we got inquiries about more info on TSA rules. Be sure and check out Immigration FastPass too.


The TSA is the United States Transportation Safety Administration and it is currently responsible for inspecting all passengers and items they intend to carry onto all commercial airliners taking off from U.S. Airports.

The official TSA guidelines state, You cannot  take any objects in your hand baggage or on your person that could cause injury to yourself and other passengers.

Transportation Safety Officers (TSO) are trained, certified and authorized, in accordance with applicable TSA standards and directives, to inspect individuals, accessible property and/or checked baggage for the presence of explosives, incendiaries, weapons or other prohibited items. At a checkpoint they are the authorities as to what cannot be taken past the inspection area”

TSA Website Offers the Following Travel Checklist information:

Before Packing

  • Liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:

The rule of thumb for liquids, gels and aerosols: You’re allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or smaller sized containers that will fit in one sealed, clear, quart-sized zip-top bag – and one bag per person. Make life simple by packing liquids in your checked baggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the liquids rue.



  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
  • 1 bag per passenger

Deodorant: Flying with deodorant isn’t a sticky situation. Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is.

Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc., should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine.


  • Review the prohibited items list for both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • If purchasing a baggage lock, be sure to look for those that are TSA recognized.
  • Tape a card with your name and contact information on your electronics.

When Packing

  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)


Not Allowed Items

Shaving Razors: In brief, all razors are allowed in checked bags. Disposable razors are allowed in carry-on bags, and safety razors with removable blades are not. Check out the blog post for pictures of razor examples and more information.


  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline.
  • All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.
  • cigarette lighters. you can take a lighter on the plane. But no more than one. Confusingly, ‘you must keep the lighter on your person throughout the flight.
  • Pack large electronics on top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility.
  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.
  • If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.
  • Before Leaving for the Airport. Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.
  • Wear easily removable shoes.
  • Passengers with a disability or medical condition may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll free helpline at (855) 787-2227.
  • Before Entering the Checkpoint
  • Eligible passengers look for the TSA Pre® lane for expedited screening at participating airports.
  • Have your ID and boarding pass out for inspection.
  • In Standard Screening Lane
  • Remove the 3-1-1 liquids bag and place it in the bin.
  • Ensure pockets are empty (keys, tissues, currency, wallets, cell phones, etc.) and remove bulky jewelry (valuable items can be placed in carry-on).
  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt.
  • Remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them into a bin with nothing placed on or under them for X-ray screening. (E.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles.)
  • Remember to check the bins and collect all belongings after going through screening.

Screening Equipment

Metal Detectors – Before going thru remove all metal objects from your person. That should include car keys, cell phones, belt buckles and coins.

Scanners – Unlike the metal detectors you must remove everything from your pockets before going thru even non-metallic objects. They can detected small plastic pill cases and glass eye dropper bottles. They have even found a two pack of breath mints and when that happens you are going to get delayed.

How to get into the TSA fast lane.

Getting Expedited Screening

TSA Pre® – TSA Pre✓® allows eligible travelers to receive expedited screening. In layman’s terms, it means you get through security quickly. The average wait time in TSA Pre✓® lanes is under 5 minutes! Even if a TSA Pre✓® line looks longer, they move much faster than a standard lane with more convenience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. 

TSA Pre✓® travelers (including those enrolled in Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI), have access to faster TSA Pre✓® lanes at more than 200 airports when flying with participating airlines. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, 

What if TSA Pre® Not Reflected on Boarding Pass: If you’re looking at your boarding pass and you don’t see the TSA Pre✓® indicator even though you’re an approved trusted traveler, we’re here to help! Get live assistance by tweeting @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger. Our AskTSA team can help resolve any issues.

TSA Pre✓® and Traveling companions:

On times while traveling either my wife or I don’t get a TSA Pre✓® on our boarding pass. We have asked agents and they have, on more than one occasion, told us that if one of us is pre-cleared the other can go with them thru TSA Pre✓®. As close as we have come to confirmation on this is following notice on the Ask TSA web site:

Traveling with children: Screening is simpler for children 12 and under, so they can keep their shoes on. Read about how to best pack for your child and read how Kids rule the airport”. Children 12 and under may also travel through the TSA Pre✓® lane if one or both of their parents have it!