Jars of sand from the beach among the most common items flagged at RSW

Posted at 6:28 PM, Jun 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 07:28:25-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Travelers check an average of 2 million bags a year while flying out of Southwest Florida International Airport. The Transportation Security Administration now wants travelers to know not just what, but how you're packing could be slowing down the security process.

"The machines that we have, and we have 4 of them here in Southwest Florida, that are very similar to CAT scan machines they are taking images of the bag that we can manipulate to look for potential threats," said TSA spokesperson Mark Howell.

TSA agents have seen it all; your underwear, containers of easy mac and bowling balls. TSA said the most common item to be flagged in SWFL is the jar of sand you saved from the beach.

Agents said after a bag agents have about 45 seconds to make a decision if there needs to be a hand search. Otherwise it automatically goes into the hand search pile. Nationwide, only about 15% of bags are hand screened every year.

"Don't pack too tight that's another tip, dense bags will tend to make the machine go off as well.  If you are having to sit on the top of your bag to close it there's a chance your bag may have to be screen because of the density of it," said Howell.

Agents use technology, so advanced, they wouldn't let us show it on TV but it is able to pinpoint where and what is triggering the alarm.

"Every bag that we have to do a hand screen is going to have a notice of inspection that's going to let you know we had to go into your bag by hand," said Howell.

Officials said another red flag is when you put a laptop in the outer pocket of your checked bag. Instead they recommend packing it in between your clothes.