TSA Shows Its Visual ...


Nobody likes airports.

Dealing with the security gauntlet at airports is right up there with going to the dentist and watching Brady Bunch rerurns.

Naturally, the organization behind airport security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA),  finds itself image-challenged. To borrow from Shakespeare, the TSA does experience “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Still, I give the TSA credit for using Instagram to put a face on the organization. Taking a page from the visual storytelling playbook, TSA’s Instagram account highlights the dangerous and even crazy stuff that people try to get through airport security. I suppose there’s a form of reality TV going on here; i.e., what will the TSA find next?

Which explains why over 250,000 people follow the TSA’s Instragram account.

Of course, airport security is no joking matter. While it walks a fine line, the TSA’s Instagram account balances the seriousness of its role with a “life is better than fiction” dimension. Using detached and formulaic language, its Instagram account highlights a range of “goods” that did not make it through airport security. I’ve captured a cross section of the TSA Instagram photos with snippets of language describing the items.

Loaded Firearm - Milwaukee- visual storytelling TSA

This loaded firearm was discovered in a carry-on handbag at the Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport (MKE).

Hand Grenade - New Orleans - TSA visual storytelling

This inert hand grenade was discovered last Thursday in a carry-on bag at #NewOrleans (#MSY) International Airport.

Bag of Explosives - TSA visual storytelling

With the X-ray machine’s help, our officers discovered 30 electric matches, a bag of potassium chlorate, a bag of titanium powder and a suicide vest. All of the items were inert, and the passenger was an explosives instructor traveling with his training aids.

Bear Repellent -TSA visual storytelling

An 8-ounce container of bear repellent was detected in a carry-on bag at the #Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. While traveling can be a bear at times, bear repellent IS prohibited in the cabin of an aircraft.

Note: Every once in a while, the TSA will go off script with a touch of levity.

Six-blade Throwing Star - TSA visual storytelling

Here’s a photo of a six-bladed throwing star that was discovered in a carry-on bag at the #LosAngeles International Airport in July of 2012.

Tactical Axes -visual storytelling

These razor-sharp tactical axes were discovered in a carry-on bag at the #Baltimore#Washington International Airport.

Not content to merely show what security flags as a no-no, the TSA periodically depicts items that you can bring you in the plane.

For example, it’s OK to pack a pie in your carry-on bag.

Pie- TSA visual storytelling

I’ll need to mention this to Mom who has proven that frozen chicken will also pass the TSA test (a story for another time) .



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