Ever Wonder What TSA Agents Are Scribbling All Over Your Boarding Pass?

The answer is a lot weirder than you think

September 6, 2016 9:00 am

Every traveler knows the moment: the TSA guy scribbles something on your boarding pass. Oh no! It’s illegible! It has some secret meaning! Are they going to escort me underground for “extra screening”?!

Well — maybe; maybe not. 

According to the TSA, boarding pass scribbles reflect the screener’s initials and locations. But The Observer‘s Sage Lazzaro found that the truth is somewhat more complicated than that

Sometimes it’s initials. Sometimes initials plus the location. Sometimes it’s a smiley face. Sometimes it’s a dude’s phone number. Sometimes it’s nothing. 

Often it’s illegible — which, as Lazzaro reports, is the screener’s hedge against getting caught for not sending a high-risk traveler on for additional screening: if the higher-ups can’t read it, nobody gets in trouble if they’re found out later. 

Feel good about our national air screening system? We know we do!

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