Until recently, the Transporation Security Administration’s policy on snacks was something akin to, “hey, sometimes we’ll want to look at that Chex Mix of yours, but it kinda depends on our mood.” But in the months since the TSA first implemented new snack-related guidelines, the recommendation seems to have become a de facto policy.
Travel + Leisure reports that more and more travelers are being asked to remove snacks from carry-ons, leading to perceived, if not actual delays and confusion. Snack removal, it’s reported, is supposed to actually speed up lines and avoid agents having to check whether your Brie is actually a bomb:
Larry Studdiford, a security consultant for airports and the founder of Studdiford Technical Solutions, told the New York Times that, for example, a block of cheese can look like a block of C-4 explosives if not screened correctly… Despite the growing prevalence of this practice, TSA spokesman Mike England told the Washington Post that the policy still remains up to the agent’s discretion and is not mandatory for all passengers.
“It’s not a requirement. It’s a recommendation. But you might see them recommending a little louder during busy times of the day,” he said.
According to England, the policy is supposed to increase both speed and safety. And while individual snack-scanning sessions—especially if food gets swabbed, as is sometimes the case—may slow lines down, it doesn’t seem to be affecting things nationally. Per the Post, “96 percent of standard passengers have a wait that is 20 minutes or less.”
If you want to have snacks but avoid delays, Travel + Leisure recommends “pre-packaged and sealed food items.” So stock up on those Ritz Bits Cheese Sandwiches and some Smokehouse Almonds, and if you don’t like those, send them to me, please.