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How to NOT Get Strip Searched at The Airport

By August 5, 2016 No Comments
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I needed this drink!

I needed this drink!

Just a little safe travel advice!

So, this is a totally true story. This past June my husband convinced me to take a week away from the salon to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I’ve been extremely busy with the salon recently but he persuaded me that we needed to take some time for ourselves. He booked us a week on a beautiful property in Punta Mita, Mexico. Easy to get to and not too far from home should the salon need me — I agreed.

As always it meant loading my schedule before and after my trip to accommodate my clients and prepare my team for my absence. I tried not to over-pack, I really did. But time got away from me and my suitcase was bursting! We had a pretty early flight so, I was up at the crack of dawn and looking terrific in this beautiful new beaded blouse that my husband bought me. I love jewelry and I still think that traveling well dressed when possible is important. We are TSA pre-checked approved so I did not worry about wearing my bling or shoes that do not remove easily. (Seasoned traveler mistake #1.)

We got to the airport early and got in line outside to check our bags and snorkeling gear. We stood in a long line for 20 minutes when my husband realized that we could not get international boarding passes on the curb. (Seasoned traveler mistake #2.)

We ran inside only to find a heavily snaked line with about 300 people in it! I could tell my husband was starting to worry as he started making small talk to reassure me that we would make the flight. We inquired at the back of the line about it being the proper line for international check in. The lady informed us to stay in the giant line.

Another half an hour later and we reached the front of the line. The counter agent informed us that we need to be across the airport to the newly opened (by 10 minutes) international check-in line for Southwest. I though my spouse was going to lose it! We raced quickly with our gear to the counter. The nice man printed our boarding passes swiftly and we handed over our luggage and sprinted for security. We did not look at the boarding passes. (Seasoned traveler mistake #3.)

We jumped into the TSA pre-check line with no waiting. The TSA agent takes our boarding passes and passports and tells us we are in the wrong line! Yep, the nice ticket agent did not print our TSA numbers on the passes! We begged him until he said, “Take cuts in the regular line here.” Holy heck! My husband said he’ll unpack phones and computers while I de-bling and undress. As I pass through the x-ray machine my beautiful new blouse blows up the screen. (The beads are all metal.)

The TSA lady pulls me aside and tells me a pat down is in order. My husband is looking at me in dismay. I tell her that she can do whatever she needs to do but to please hurry. I told her it was my anniversary and that there was only one flight that we were about to miss. Slowly, she pats me down while my hubby sweats it out. She swabs my hands and sends the swab through the machine. The damned thing goes off like the fourth of July and TSA agents are crawling on us!

She tells us that they will have to inspect everything we have. I ask her not to unwrap the anniversary gift I have hidden in my purse as my husband is to oversee the inspection of our belongings. He’s overseeing the inspection because I need to be strip searched! My mind is racing and I am so mad. What could possibly cause me to test positive for explosives? I didn’t even turn on the BBQ the night before.

I am escorted to a private room in front of tons of people. The two female officers have me remove all my clothes but my under garments. Slowly one starts to inspect and check every inch! I started to cry a little begging her to hurry as I did not want to miss my flight. When she was satisfied I was not going to blow the plane up, they re-swabbed me and let me get dressed. I literally threw my clothes back on. I didn’t even put my shoes on or fasten my bra! I exited the room and saw my husband looking so upset. He yelled at me to run as fast as I could.

As our luck would have it, our gate was the last one on the far wing of the Southwest terminal. As we approached the gate we could hear them paging us. As we ran up to the gate they yelled at us that the door was closing. That was the last straw! I yelled back in tears, explained what happened and demanded that they open the door. The agent quickly obliged and ordered the door opened.

We had to grab the first seats we saw and, of course, they were not together. There I was in between two strange men trying to fasten my bra and redress myself. Talk about awkward! But, we made it. A few hours later we were at the beach and enjoying a celebratory glass of champagne.

I took the time as I tried to relax to contemplate what possibly could have been on my hands. I Googled a few possibilities and there it was, SELF TANNER! Yep, apparently there can be metallic components that can cause the detection device to alarm. Who knew? Well, now I know and so do you. Ladies, refrain from applying self tanner before you travel. It could save you a ton of stress and make your travels much smoother.

Blog by Lauren

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