TSA Beware That Cute Sequined Top

A Cautionary Tale

My wife has a sequined top that she has worn while traveling a few times. There isn’t anything really metallic in the sequins and it has made its way through a number of airport metal detectors. But 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 year while passing thru the TSA Pre Check line my wife was directed to go thru the scanner. Feet on the marks, hands above her head and wait – and wait and something’s gone wrong. It seemed the agent scanned her several times and now she is pulled aside for a thorough search. What happened?

She was wearing that sequined top!

After that day and with a little research we 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 some attached beads. It seems that 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 big search.

A comment Submitted by Cindy M was found on the TSA website 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 inks, and more embellishments on clothing.”

Why is it 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 right now sequins aren’t one of those TSA online tips.

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