I Figured Out Why The TSA Sets Up “Security Audits” At The Gate

Nov 15, 2014 by

I Figured Out Why The TSA Sets Up “Security Audits” At The Gate

When it hit me what they’re trying to do with their obnoxious “security audits” at the gate.

The horribly pathetic and transparently theatrical “gate security audit.” You know you’re on a flight with someone on The List when the TSA posts up at your gate, checks everyone’s bags, and makes your flight late.

Every flight I’m on gets one of these “random security audits.” This is how it goes:

  • Three to six TSA agents set up at the gate. They bring a little wheeled cart.
  • As soon as boarding begins, one of them announces loudly: “Attention passengers. The TSA has selected this flight for a security audit. Please prepare to show ID and present your bags to an agent for inspection.”
  • Agents go down the line and makes everyone show their ID and boarding pass.
  • Additional agents asking various people in line to put their carry on luggage on the cart, and give it a cursory (sometimes more than cursory) inspection.
  • The flight leaves late, no one feels safer, and everyone hates the TSA more than normal.

I know the TSA is 100% security theater and a complete joke, but I always looked at these goofy “security audits” as being especially hard to put a righteous spin on. Like, if you cornered them to explain exactly how security was enhanced by re-checking the bag of a jetsetting terrorist 15 minutes after checking it the last time, what would they say?

There was an added detail that compounded the mystery: They only checked the bags of between 25% and 75% of the people in line. And often times, they didn’t even check mine. And that’s despite the TSA agents at the gate being some of the same ones I had dealt with back at security minutes before. They knew who I was. Why didn’t they always check my bag?

I figured it out

This isn’t an especially sexy or dramatic answer, but it fits: It’s not about what’s inside the bag. They’re at the gate to make sure I haven’t switched bags with someone who isn’t flagged by the TSA, and didn’t go through such rigor at security. They’re making sure I’m carrying the same bags.

Future experiment: Travel with someone, switch bags, and watch the TSA lose their minds.

I’m just out for good blog material at this point…



-Jetsetting Terrorist

Endnote: Preview the upcoming book - get two sample chapters:

Related Posts


Share This


  1. Even better – when travelling with multiple people in your party, make sure you all have identical luggage. And play ‘Musical Bags’ while the TSA is setting up.

  2. MarkL

    This sounds like fun. Happy to fly with you out of DCA or IAD sometime. I’ll bring my Halliburton Zero.

  3. Somebody

    Why not swap with yourself? You could carry a folded up laundry bag inside your shoulder bag. Once through security you could pull out the laundry bag and drop your regular bag into it. Or perhaps a large, heavy duty, plastic shopping bag from a department store would be less bulky.

    • Bacon

      One wheeled luggage and one duffel bag. The duffel will fit in the luggage bag no problem and it looks totally different.

  4. Brumler

    Or maybe you should do a little more research on why they do that before you find clever ways to make it “fun”.
    There is more going on behind the scene then what you see or what you think as a passenger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get two unreleased stories:
(instant PDF download)