TSA officers are, at least at face value, the demographic most profoundly unaffected by holiday cheer. As a traveler, it’s hard not to feel like these agents exist to make your travel experience as unpleasant as possible. It’s the Friday before Christmas and you didn’t even really want to visit your uncle in the first place, but here you are, standing in the security line being yelled at by a bunch of surly folks in blue. Take your shoes off! Remove laptops from bags! And for god’s sake, take everything out of your pockets!
But can you really blame them for being a bit terse? After all, people try to bring a lot of weird stuff on planes.
There are a few things that the TSA is pretty chill about that might surprise you, though. We’ve compiled a handy list, but don’t recommend arguing about it with that compliance officer who’s at the tail end of an eight-hour shift dealing with annoying travelers. You can always just ask the TSA directly though. Tweet them a picture of your questionable items and they’ll answer you during normal east coast business hours.
Sara Chodoshis an associate editor at PopSci where she writes about everything from vaccine hesitancy to extreme animal sex. She got her master's degree in science journalism at NYU's Science Health and Environmental Reporting Program, and is getting a second master's in data visualization from the University of Girona. Contact the author here.