The Transportation Security Administration has plans to survey about 25,000 people a year so it can learn more about their views on airport security, from the amount of time it takes to pass through a checkpoint to the intensity of baggage screening some travelers face over others. TSA officials will also ask about things like stress levels and confidence in the workers carrying out security procedures.

But Government Computer News magazine posted a feature on its website recently in which travelers described some of the more curious interactions they’ve had with airport security. We thought our own Elevated Risk readers would appreciate seeing some of the best among them:

• One man purchased a “kilo” of sweet, chocolate truffles while visiting Belgium. They came wrapped in foil and stuffed into a brick-shaped box. He always travels with an alarm clock and happened to pack it in his bag alongside the brick and an electric razor. The traveler was also carrying coiled tubes for inkjet printers related to his work. “When I packed my bag, I never considered how the ensemble would look to an x-ray machine (clock, large battery, lots of coil, and an apparent brick of plastique).” He was directed to a secure room by armed personnel and made to unpack the bag. “The moral of the story? Shipping items is often more convenient and less costly than a missed flight!”

• Before airports began requiring that shoes be removed, a newly hired passenger screener used a metal-detector wand near a traveler’s feet. It beeped, so the man removed his shoes. It beeped again, so he rolled up his pants. When asked if he had pins in his ankles, the man answered no, but it beeped again anyway. He was moved out of the line before a supervisor arrived and discovered what happened. Speaking to the new recruit: “You’re picking up the rebar in the concrete floor.” Says the traveler: “We all had a good laugh and I assured the new guy I wasn’t offended and went on my way. You just have to have a sense of humor about this.”

• Several years ago, airport authorities in Germany would determine the physical weight of laptop computers travelers carried with them and then compare the results to known laptop weights contained in a book. One passenger’s laptop happened to come in a little overweight. “When I told them it was probably because the hard drive was full, they nodded knowingly and let me through!”

Flickr photo from alex-s

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G.W. Schulz is a reporter for Reveal, covering security, privacy, technology and criminal justice. Since joining The Center for Investigative Reporting in 2008, he's reported stories for NPR, KQED,, The Dallas Morning News, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones and more. Prior to that, he wrote for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and was an early contributor to The Chauncey Bailey Project, which won a Tom Renner Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors in 2008. Schulz also has won awards from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California Chapter. He graduated from the University of Kansas and is based in Austin, Texas.