Why Does The TSA Swab Your Hands, Phone, Laptop, Food, Bag, Shoes, etc.?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve just spent 30 minutes in the regular TSA queues, less than 5 minutes in the TSA Pre-Check line or 1 minute in the CLEAR area, all lines eventually lead to, not Rome, but the X-ray machines.

Once you’re there, it doesn’t matter if you’ve done this a bajillion times before, or even if you haven’t and know what to do to get you through X-ray quickly, you might go through the machine and get the random beeping alarm. Or maybe you got the dreaded SSSS on your boarding pass.

Either way, the TSA workers pull you aside and say you have to go through a secondary screening. It usually just involves them swabbing your hands (and/or your cell phone, laptop, food, bag, shoes, etc.), putting the swab in an Explosives Trace Detector (ETD) and, when given the all-clear, you’re told you can be on your merry way.

But why are they doing that? And why YOU?

Continue reading “Why Does The TSA Swab Your Hands, Phone, Laptop, Food, Bag, Shoes, etc.?”

How To Help Avoid Getting A False Positive On TSA Swab Tests

If you’re traveling by plane in the United States, you know that sometimes you’ll get pulled aside for a “swab test.” Being a “chosen one” appears to be random (although some think it’s if you look suspicious or if a TSA officer still has to fill his/her quota for the day) and it’s certainly harmless enough – they swab your hands (and/or your laptop, shoes, film, cell phone, bags, wheelchair or cast) with a cotton cloth and check for explosive residue in an Explosives Trace Detector (ETD). If you’re negative, you’re free to go. But if you’re positive, you have to go to the next step of security.

The problem is, some people wind up with a false positive. Here’s why:
Continue reading “How To Help Avoid Getting A False Positive On TSA Swab Tests”