They came for your laptops. And for your fluids and your shoes. Now comes the Transportation Security Administration for your snacks.
Passengers at airports across the country report that more and more TSA agents are instructing them to remove their snacks and other foods from their carry-on items and place them in this ubiquitous plastic container for separate screening.
It's not part of the agency's standard policy, according to TSA spokesman Mike England. It's just a recommendation issued by the agency last year to speed up the bag-check process. Screening supervisors at airports have to decide if and when the passengers have to offer their pretzel packages for a solo tour through the X-ray machine.
But the "Recommendation" seems to get steaming and moving quickly the area of the de facto protocol, according to travelers who have received snacks from their airlines and who have been informed by simple TSA screeners, that the snack checks are now common practice.
"He was just like," Sorry. This is a new policy. We'll do that now, "said Anny Gaul, 33, about her recent interaction with a TSA agent at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Gaul, a frequent traveler, had never heard such instructions when he was waiting there for a security line At the airport, but here it was in April, standing near a long TSA line where a pickpocket shouted that all passengers had to take out their groceries and put them in a separate container.
She started digging through her carrying bag They found the chocolate bar and the plastic bag with the mix she knew floated in. Other travelers, also visibly confused, began searching for bags of goldfish packs and crushing energy bars in their pockets, the line said Gaul , was noticeably slower than normal.
"It definitely caused a delay ̵
After England, the takeaway recommendation is part of an effort to better identify explosives in aircraft and to limit the number of bags marked for specific searches.
England said the concern was not that people might be able to hide explosives or other illegal material in food. Rather, the food itself resembles the ingredients of an explosive – so bags of snacks are more likely to be tagged for a time-consuming manual search. The officials thought that in some cases it could be more efficient if passengers took the snacks prematurely out of their bags.
"Some foods and some organic materials can be very similar to explosive materials," he said  England said he could not give any specific information about how a pretzel pack might look like an explosive. He denies the idea that the new attention to snacks could be an excessive screening measure.
"There is a very good reason for everything we do, nothing is arbitrary," England said.
He said there are no immediate plans to standardize the practice at every airport across the country, but the procedure is used at times when supervisors think it might speed things up.
"It's not a requirement, it's a recommendation," England said. "But you could see that they recommended something louder at busy times of the day."
It remains unclear whether the snack-removal protocol shortens waiting times – whether the removal of special-screen sacks compensates for the disruption of passengers undergoing a last-second hunt for food stuffed in their pockets.
England acknowledged that there might be "isolated cases" when passengers were asked to remove food from their pockets. 96 percent of standard passengers have a waiting time of 20 minutes or less.
Christina Saull, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said that the new process has not led to longer waiting times at Reagan National or Dulles International Airports.
That did not stop the complaints about social media.
"Of all the TSA rules that are arbitrarily enforced, they dig out every snack" Their bags are the stupidest, "tweeted Anne Keller after seeing the snack demonstration at National.
And the passengers notice Not only in Washington Travelers have complained about the practice used in Dallas Love Field, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles International, Newark Liberty and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International The recommendation also finds appeal at smaller airports – in Boise , Idaho; Greenville, S. C .; and Manchester, NH
"How bizarre," Cindy Armstrong tweeted at Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon.
"A terrorist makes bombs out of Frito-Lay," mused a passenger who was waiting at Orlando International Airport.
"It's a nationwide policy. , , that all parents queuing longer when they need to pee, "joked one traveler who got to know the practice at San Jose International Airport.
" The TSA has asked me to take my snacks out of my bag and personally make sacrifices Tweeted Thea Neal of Kansas City, Mo.
When Neal, a 29-year-old social media manager for a greeting card company, was asked to remove her snacks, she panicked immediately after receiving a memo on a new one And, more importantly, TSA will confiscate her food?
"I had a whole bunch of crazy snacks in my bag that I really enjoyed eating," she recalls.
Luckily, their snacks were However, she remains uneasy at the thought that this could become the standard practice on any journey through airport security driving does not make her safer – "It seemed, frankly, completely pointless," she said – and there are sanitary considerations.
"I was lucky that everything I brought was prepackaged, but if it was fruit or something … she said, shuddering to think of her food, which rolled around in a plastic container." These things are pretty disgusting. People put their shoes and money there. "
Lauren Rosenberg, a 20-year-old student from Houston, doubts that the practice will help the safety lines move faster.As it happened on their last Monday at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the process of chasing the cereal bars and Luna bars stuffed in her pocket up the line.
And Rosenberg started asking questions, why did they have to look at their snacks, was that a permanent new policy? The TSA agent in their line knew it "I just need your snacks, your Doritos and your M & Ms," she reminded him.
Rosenberg said she was worried that this was more than just another inconvenience imposed on the travelers It's a slippery hillside, a college junior Rosenberg, young enough not to remember a time when liquids larger than 3.4 ounces were not banned from planes.
"The NAEC Well, what they get us out of our bags is medicine, "she said. "And that would be a real invasion of privacy."