13 Things You Should Never Say to TSA!


Thank you to Lindsay Tigar for including me in her Reader’s Digest article: “13 Things to Never Say to TSA Agents.”

“Are you looking for a bomb in there?”

Jet-setter and travel blogger Lisa Niver reminds travelers that a TSA agent’s number one priority is safety. It’s a job that most people take seriously and definitely one that should be respected. So while it’s annoying when your bag is searched, remember why it’s being done—and never joke about anything that could put others in danger, like insinuating you have a bomb or a gun. Niver explains that TSA agents have to take every comment into consideration, and since they don’t know you, your “joking” comment may prompt them to investigate to make sure you’re not actually a terrorist.

“Will a twenty help me get through this line faster?”

When you have only ten minutes to board your flight and the next one isn’t until tomorrow morning, thanks to augmented schedules during the pandemic, you may feel desperate to make it. But winking at a TSA agent and slipping him or her a twenty? Niver says that tactic won’t be effective—and it could land you in mega trouble. Much like police officers, TSA agents can’t take any cash in exchange for leniency, and they raise an eyebrow at those who think they could be so easily persuaded. In fact, if you try to bribe them, you could end up getting arrested! 

The curse word of your choice

No matter how many laps around the sun we take, it’s important to remember the golden rule our parents taught us from the start: Treat others as you want to be treated. All too often, frustrated or exhausted passengers will curse at TSA agents when the line is moving too slowly, which is obviously disrespectful. Niver says any type of aggression, even verbal, can send you packing and cause you to miss your flight—or even be put in a holding room for questioning.

“This is ridiculous!”

What would you do if someone told you that your job was ridiculous? You’d probably be offended, right? And if you ever suggest that you could outsmart a TSA agent, they won’t take it well. That’s why Niver urges passengers to put themselves in the agent’s shoes and to try to have patience during the screening process. “They are paid to make sure that you are safe, that they are safe, and that all the passengers in the terminal or on the plane are safe,” she says. “And that may take longer than we would like.” Your outbursts won’t help the situation—and could delay things even further.

Read the full Reader’s Digest article: “13 Things to Never Say to TSA Agents.”

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is a speaker at the Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Dallas Travel and Adventure Shows for 2023. Her podcast, “Make Your Own Map,” has been watched in more than 11 countries on 4 continents. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. Look for her memoir in Fall 2023 from Post Hill Press/Simon and Schuster. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have nearly 2 million views. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. https://bit.ly/m/lisaniver Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.7 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

One response to “13 Things You Should Never Say to TSA!

  1. I just passed through security at Tampa International. One Agent was yelling at passengers who were clearly following instructions. He was switched from ID check to baggage check after scanning and was throwing baggage at a table meant for examination of possible contraband. He was rude as well as rough with contents. In other words he was very unprofessional.

    Since we have been told to remain silent otherwise we may be taken into custody I would like to know what can be said to an agent acting this way. I toyed with the idea of getting his badge# but I felt that might earn me a trip to the detention room.

    Should passengers have to be silent when abused this way or can we speak up?

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