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very sensitive metal detector at DCA PreCheck this morning

very sensitive metal detector at DCA PreCheck this morning

Old Sep 28, 18, 4:08 am
  #1  
aih
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very sensitive metal detector at DCA PreCheck this morning

I'm partly venting but also curious. The metal detector I went through at DCA was extremely -- unreasonably -- sensitive this morning. I have done this many times before with no trouble. But this time I was one of many removing things and going through repeatedly.

Every man was at least having to remove his belt and try again. The TSA guy had me remove my wallet (credit cards). I also removed my watch. And of course my belt. The last thing I took off was my fur felt hat, which I hadn't considered. After that I was ok.

Maybe the hat has wire in the hat band. But my attire and pocket contents was no different than usual, and same as when I went through detectors at home airport. And it was happening to practically every man to varying degrees.

I wonder if this was on purpose. My guess is, DCA, and it is on purpose. My other thought is whether or not this is the new normal at DCA.
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Old Sep 28, 18, 5:25 am
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Presume this was Pre-Check. Sometimes the machines are randomly adjusted to a greater sensitivity, sometimes less. Most times the latter.

It never bothers me as I have made it a habit to dump the contents of my pockets into my carryon pre-checkpoint for years. Takes 10-15 seconds max and it's avoided all kinds of silliness over the years, when others have had issues.
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Old Sep 28, 18, 7:25 am
  #3  
aih
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Thanks. Yes, it was pre-check. Same line as I always use, many times a year.

I too empty my pockets ahead of time. Everything I still had on me has been on me mmany times before without issue. I'm guessing the hat has either wire in the hat band, or there are small fasteners like staples holding the band in place. Hasn't been a problem before. But I will start leaving this one behind now when I fly.
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Old Oct 3, 18, 8:49 am
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Even pre-9/11 I always emptied my pockets completely and removed outerwear and hats before going through the WTMD. I've always been a little worried about the possibility that the magnetic field of the WTMD might damage one of the magnetic strips on my cards, and I also worried that the metal content of outerwear like jackets or coats might combine with my belt buckle and cumulatively alarm. When wearing a larger, metal buckle, I'd even take off my belt.

Today, I don't have PreCheck, so I always get the AIT scanner, which requires you to be nearly naked to prevent alarms anyway, but in those rare instances when the WTMD has been in use in the regular screening lanes instead of AIT, I still empty my pockets into my carry-on, remove any ouoterwear, and remove my belt. ANd honestly, I still worry about the zipper, snap/button, and rivets on my pants possibly setting the darn thing off at some point.
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Old Oct 4, 18, 7:20 pm
  #5  
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I don't worry. I wasn't asking about everyone else's habits. I go through metal detectors multiple times a month and have for decades. I have my experience and habits, too. The detector was ridiculously sensitive this time. In my original post I wondered if this is the new normal at DCA.

Judging by my overall experience and seeing that nearly every other guy besides me was setting off the alarm, I know it wasn't just me. As far as whether this is the new normal at DCA or not, I'll be going through that same line again in a couple weeks, and I'll get another data point. This hat will stay at home, though.
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Old Oct 7, 18, 9:51 am
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Originally Posted by aih View Post
I don't worry. I wasn't asking about everyone else's habits. I go through metal detectors multiple times a month and have for decades. I have my experience and habits, too. The detector was ridiculously sensitive this time. In my original post I wondered if this is the new normal at DCA.

Judging by my overall experience and seeing that nearly every other guy besides me was setting off the alarm, I know it wasn't just me. As far as whether this is the new normal at DCA or not, I'll be going through that same line again in a couple weeks, and I'll get another data point. This hat will stay at home, though.
Sorry, my post was meant as subtle advice, not as a non-sequitur reminiscence.

The "new normal" for the last 17 years is that there is now no such thing as "normal". The screening experience changes minute-to-minute depending on the individual TSOs manning the c/p, as well as their local supervisory hierarchy (leads, TSMs, FSDs) and the current set of ever-changing policies issued by TSA HQ in DC.

The best way to ensure, or at least increase the likelihood of, a screening experience with no alarms or escalation, is to prepare for the worst-case scenario. Since most things in life fall somewhere between best-case and worst-case, being prepared for the worst-case means you'll never be under-prepared.

Hence, my observation that I always empty my pockets and doff my belt and outerwear no matter which screening methodology I might encounter at the c/p.
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Old Oct 27, 18, 8:51 am
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Was this a PreCheck line? New to PreCheck you don't normally have to take anything out of your pockets?
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Old Oct 27, 18, 9:30 am
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Originally Posted by zitsky View Post
Was this a PreCheck line? New to PreCheck you don't normally have to take anything out of your pockets?
If you are 'randomly' assigned to get a scan, you will have to empty your pockets, and the contents may become separated from the rest of your belongings. If you are randomly targeted for the <whole body scanner> and are physically unable to assume and hold the position, you will get a full-body <pat-down> and your pockets will have to be emptied - and again, the contents of your pockets will be taken out of your sight and run through the xray by themselves.

Last edited by TWA884; Oct 27, 18 at 10:25 am Reason: Charged terms better left for the Policy Debate forum
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Old Nov 2, 18, 5:51 am
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Originally Posted by zitsky View Post
Was this a PreCheck line? New to PreCheck you don't normally have to take anything out of your pockets?
I generally only remove my phone, as that is the only large electronic item I have on my person (other than my laptop, which is in my bag). I keep my wallet in my pocket when going through the metal detector in the precheck line .
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