5 Things You Shouldn’t Do in an Airport

Written By: The Planet D

Imagine this… You’ve booked your flight and are on your way to the airport. Everything seems fine until you get there and all of a sudden something goes completely wrong. You’ve just done something you shouldn’t do in an airport and you end up stuck in that little room trying to explain what just happened.

For many years unpredictable situations have occurred in airports all across the country, they’ve even made TV shows about it.

Things You Shouldn’t Do in an Airport

At some point or another, someone will decide that they would make the mistake of doing something they shouldn’t have done in an airport.

If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Meet The Parents”, then you would know that it wouldn’t be such a good idea to act out in an airport. You may cause yourself to end up in a jail cell with a big guy named Bubba and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?

Questions to ask yourself before going to the Airport

You might want to ask yourself these questions first before going into an airport.

  • Do I have anything suspicious in my suitcase?
  • are my liquids the right size
  • Am I wearing the right attire?
  • You even have to be extra careful in how you use your words.

Things have changed over the years, people are more sensitive at airports because of situations in the past. You think to yourself, “well that wouldn’t happen to me, what can I possibly do to cause a problem in an airport?” Well here it is:

#1 Do not say the word bomb, explore, bang or “in my shoe.”

This would probably be at the top of the list of things you should not do in an airport. This would definitely get you kicked off the plane faster than you can say the word “bomb” ever again. No one wants to hear the word bomb, especially in an airport. Not only will you regret saying it, you’ll attract unwanted attention and who knows where that will take you!

things not to do in an airport
Don’t draw attention to your shoes

Note from Deb: My dad did this once when I was very young. I was going to Colorado to train for figure skating at the Broadmoore arena in Colorado Springs. It was back in the days where there was still figures in figure skating and when practicing, we used a big metal scribe to draw our circles.

Think of the old compasses that you used in grade school. The ones with the pointy end and then your pencil fit into the other end as your twirled it around. well that’s what I had. When it was all folded up, it did look like a gun.

Dad made a joke that it was a gun. Can you imagine that today? We’d be locked up!

See: Breeze Through Airport Security this Summer

2. Do not Wear Your Sunglasses Inside

People might get the wrong idea and think that you are a fleeing fugitive trying to hide your identity. There’s nothing worse than being a victim of a mistaken identity, it can take forever for them to realize they have the wrong person.

Don't wear sunglasses going through security

You might even get arrested and miss your flight, all because you wanted to look cool. I guess wearing a wig along with the sunglasses would be worse, but who’s to say I’m wrong. Remember, you can look cool elsewhere, airports aren’t the place.

Note from Deb: I have had this happen. I wear prescription glasses and many times I will wear prescription sunglasses. I am quite near sighted and can’t see at all without my glasses. If I have my prescription sunglasses on, I don’t think of taking them off when approaching the counter because it is the only way I can see. I have had a stern talking to once when going up to clear immigration with my sunglasses. It only happened once, and now I am very careful, not to wear my prescription glasses.

#3 Do Not Reach Into Your Jacket Directly After Setting off the Metal Detector

Even if you’re not the type to carry a weapon, if they think you do, then you’re better off throwing yourself on the ground and putting your hands up or you might get shot! It would be a shame to end up with a gun wound or taser to the neck for pulling out a piece of chewing gum.

things not to do in an airport

Dave and Deb: This, I never would have thought of, but what a good point.

See Packing for Airport Security

#4 Do not Carry Bulk Packages of Tea Leaves in Your Bag

I know grandmas love those tea leaves, (and so do Dave and Deb!) but it might get you kicked out of the airport or even arrested. You may even have to wait hours before they even clear you to leave. To avoid all the humiliation it might be best if you leave those tea bags at home, you can get some more when you’re travelling.

don't bring tea or coffee through the airport

Note from Dave:  Our old neighbour used to go to Jamaica twice a year. One time he came home with coffee for everyone in the building and all his friends. He ended up giving us our coffee in ziplock bags because the officials went through it with a fine-tooth comb.

He was infuriated and couldn’t understand why they ruined all his coffee. We were like duh, you don’t bring copious amounts of coffee home from Jamaica without looking suspicious.

#5 Do Not Pat the Sniffer Dog

Many of these dogs are trained to sniff out drugs and bombs and that includes the bad guys that carry them. They’re not exactly the ‘making friends’ type!

If you do, you might end up being dragged around the airport in more ways than one. You might even end up getting a one way ticket to the emergency room instead of your intended destination.

don't pat the security dogs at the airport

Making your airport experience one you will never wish to have again and an embarrassing story to tell your friends!

Note from Dave and Deb: We saw a really cute dog sniffing for fruits and vegetables in Australia. It was so tempting to give it a little pat but we refrained. This one probably wouldn’t have dragged us around the airport, but I had a feeling we would be arrested or something. We never ever interact with dogs, officials, security or anybody unless they first talk to us. Yep, I’m probably paranoid, but I prefer to get though the airport with as little drama as possible.

Although it is not always likely, it can definitely be a possibility. Situations like this can occur in an airport if you’re not careful. What you do, say or wear could land you on the next Airport TV show and not in a good way! There’s a lot of things people should not do in an airport, but for some strange reason, it happens anyway.

If you do any of these then don’t say we didn’t warn you!

what not to do in an airport

Do you have any funny  (or terrifying) stories that have happened to you in an airport? We’d love to hear!

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

53 thoughts on “5 Things You Shouldn’t Do in an Airport”

  1. The first thing you shouldn’t do is BE AT THE AIRPORT in the first place!

    I can’t understand how ANYONE in their right mind can still have the desire to fly anymore given this totally ridiculous “security” bullshit going on.



  2. As someone who worked for DHS for 5 years, the only two on this list you really need to avoid are saying bomb, etc and not petting working dogs (this goes for airport police, Customs, and even seeing-eye dogs). If you really can’t help yourself when you see a dog, be sure to ask their handler first.

  3. Helpful tips! I got stopped once since I was carrying a Swiss knife. Better keep this in mind! πŸ™‚

  4. I got stopped in LA once. The gentleman asked if a bag was mine and then asked me to come to the side with him. He went through my bag and said, “kiddo, I can’t find what we thought we saw”. I said, “what did you see? so I can help find something that looks like it” and he said, “a butane lighter”. I suspected the big bangle I bought, cause I have no idea what a butane lighter looks like. He took out the suspicious stuff (he thought it might have been my inhaler and phone charger that looked weird next to each other) , sent it through the xray(?) again and then cleared me.

  5. It reminds me of my father. He didn’t told us that he brought a pack of tea. It takes couple of hours to search it! He really loves tea! It’s the only thing that makes us stopped.

  6. Going through an airport is no longer a very enjoyable experience for most people. With the added security these days its hard not to feel awkward and nervous passing security checks.

    • I agree Mary. We are going to apply for the Nexis pass to make things easier between US and Canada, but I dread flying in today’s world. The security checks and hoops that you have to jump through are ridiculous. Boarding a plane to Australia from Thailand, I had my un-opened can of coke that I bought in the terminal after the security check right beside the gate confiscated. What’s up with that?

  7. good tips! I never thought about the not petting the sniffer dog before – i always just hope that they dont come near me – not that I’m hiding anything…. haha

  8. All good tips, to be sure! Like you I have a pair of prescription sunglasses and have worn them indoors when I didn’t have a free hand to dig out my “indoor” glasses, and thankfully it’s never caused a problem…..but I can see where it could so I’ll be more careful in the future.

    I also get irked with people who aren’t prepared for the security checkpoint, but I try to make sure I have plenty of time, and then just remain patient…….I often travel with at least one, if not two laptops, my iPad, and a camera, so it takes me a bit to unload it all into the bins, but I try to make up for it by never wearing jewelry, belts, or lace-up shoes. πŸ™‚

  9. So true, It’s the little things that we often overlook, but once that was brought to our attention, it made a lot of sense.

    • Did they take it away? You just made me think of Coca Tea from Peru, I wonder if you are allowed to bring that home?

  10. The sunglasses definitely. People want to see your face. Even if you have nothing to hide you look suspicious.

    And you think people would know better, but any mention of any word like bomb, hijack, gun is going to get you at the very least some stares. This is a different world we live in from 10 years ago…

  11. Haha that’s so funny about the neighbor bringing back coffee from Jamaica!

    When I was about 15 the class flew over to Italy during some school project, and when the lady asked the “class clown” if he had any sharp things with him he said “nothing but a knife” – yes, he got into quite some trouble… πŸ˜›

    • It’s always the class clown eh! I bet he won’t be doing that again. Ooh, I just can’t imagine how he felt the minute after he said it. That’s one of those moments when I’d say to myself “it seemed like a good idea at the time!”

  12. Never would have thought about that sunglasses issues… I’ll have to try to remember that….

    Once we were given false direction instructions at an airport by 3 (!) different airport staff members, making us go through the security check once more and miss our flight!!! And it was the last one that night plus we were not the only ones! There were a native couple too, so it was not a language problem! After a lot of fuss they had to pay a taxi, hotel and some snacks to eat for us and book us on the next flight early the morning after. Yikes.

  13. I can not remember the last time I went through an airport. I will be going through one though in November when I go back to see my parents. I really am worried that I will do something wrong and end up being treated like a terrorist. Sounds funny but it is a concern of mine.

    • It’s a legitimate concern Natalie. When we were flying home from New Zealand, there was an announcement over the loudspeaker in Melbourne calling our names. I nearly had a heart attack, I was like “What did I do?” It turned out that they just needed to change our boarding pass, but for a moment there, I was sure I was going in the “back room”

  14. I once saw a guy walking around an airport with a suitcase saying “Does my bomb look big in this?”… How stupid do you have to be to think that’s a good idea?!

    • Hahaha, I laughed outloud. Sadly however, I know people like this:-) They think it’s funny until the bomb squad surrounds them.

  15. I just witnessed something surprising in the St. Thomas airport, so much so that I might do a blog post about it. They let someone bring fresh flowers from St. Thomas to the US?! I thought that fruit and plants were the biggest no-no. St. Thomas is a US territory, yet we had to go through customs anyway and a passport is “preferred.” A lot of people get married on St. John & St. Thomas, and this was a wedding bouquet. So maybe the TSA officials were just being sentimental? This couple was just ahead of us in the security line, and I was paying close attention because I was positive they were going to have to throw out these flowers…

    • Wow, now that is interesting. I can never keep track with what is allowed and what isn’t. The custom guys were either in a good mood or maybe because it is a US territory it is allowed. Which doesn’t make sense either way because if the plants aren’t native to America, wouldn’t that be no no? Oh well, I guess we’ll never know know:-)

  16. Behind the light tone I think your message is a good one.

    It may be nerves, or a desire to lighten the tone sometimes, but I know I have done my share of inappropriate things and made inappropriate comments.

    Let me see – there was the time I decided to burn off the frayed end of a strap on my rucksack with a match while sitting in a cafe in Jerusalem. That went down really well with the poor young woman serving at the counter.

    Then there was the time I was helping some people wrap cling-film (Saran wrap) around a card stand and I said it reminded me of taping up a kidnap victim in Beirut.

    Then there was the time… You get the idea.

    • Haha, remind me not to go through security with you David:D I agree, there is a need sometimes to lighten the tone by saying very inappropriate things. I wonder what makes us do that?

    • I have to say, they look so friendly in the airport that you just want to scoop them up and give them a big cuddle. Adorable.

  17. I was kept in security for over an hour, because they found nitrogen on my purse. Yes, that is possible because I had my purse in the garden, and it had been recently fertilized. They torn my lovely purse apart, and I almost missed my flight.
    Oh, for the good old days when flying’s biggest bitch was about the food.

    • That is absolutely terrible. You would think that they would be able to tell the difference between trace elements of fertilizer from the components for making a bomb. It is getting a little scary isn’t it. I never know what I have walked through or picked up during my travels. Who knows when we’ll be detained next.

  18. I can’t pet the sniffer dogs!!!! But they are so cute. . . as they bite my hand off πŸ™‚ Great list of things not to do in airports.

    • Haha, I think that you are right Debbie. They would either bit or you’d get a good smack from the security guard.

  19. No matter how many times I cross through airport security/international borders, I still have the overwhelming urge to blurt out something inappropriate right at the most inappropriate time… my GF hates it when I JOKINGLY whisper to her “I hope they don’t find the cocaine in my shoe” Right before we enter security. It’s like I have to purge the urge to say it… ha ha ha.

  20. One thing they didnt like over here was a friend taking a photo of me before checking in my luggage. A security guy just walked by, he demanded seeing all the photos. There wheren’t any signs though that said no photography. But they clearly didn’t like it.

    Another tip, don’t let your friends borrow your bagpacks if you know they smoke weed. Some guy did this, and when he arrived at his destination the drug dogs smelled it. He never used that stuff, or carry it. But obviously they didnt believe him, so he got the glove treatment….

    • I am always afraid to pull out my camera at an airport. Once in Toronto I was taking a photo of a tunnel leading to the subway. I loved how well it was set up for wheel chair accessibility and I was going to write a blog post about it because we had just returned from Paris where we constantly commented on how it would be terrible to be disabled and try to take public transit there. Security got a hold of me and I had to explain what I was doing. I gave them my card and was pretty shaken up. It was just before the G20 Summit.

  21. These are some great tips. I never thought about carrying bulk tea packs, I’d imagine loose tea would be even worse. One time I bought some loose tea and my mom thought it was pot (it really wasn’t) so I’d imagine taking so through an airport wouldn’t be good. And those sniffer dogs are adorable, there was some chocolate lab sniffers at the airport I used to work at. I learned that you always ask the handler if you can pet the dog before petting so. They’re cute, but they’re also doing a job and they will bite.

    • Haha, I remember when we had our cat we always kept loose catnip in the refrigerator and when my parents came to visit I felt the need to explain to them that it was just catnip not pot. my cat loved to eat catnip. We’d pinch out a small handful onto her cardboard scratching mat and she would roll in it and have hours of fun. Yes, sometimes I worry about loose tea as well. Very cool to know that if you ask, you may be able to pet the dogs. . I might give it a try.

  22. Even though it might be really egocentric… Screaming bomb in an airport is one of those things you need to try before you die πŸ™‚ You know, like pulling the emergency brake on a train!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never done it, but there is a rebel inside me that just wants to go for it xD

  23. “Bomb! BOMB! Bomb! Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba-BOMB!” That part of the movie always cracks me up!
    On a serious note though, wouldn’t it be great if everyone who booked a plane ticket, could be issued with some sort of “Get through the airport with minimum hassle” checklist? I have nothing to hide and am reassured, rather than offended by strict security checks, but some people take SO long! It does make the airport process a bit painful sometimes.

    • You are so right Liv. I have seen people not have their computers out, not take their jackets off, carrying full size shampoos and toothpastes and they just take so long. I always think of George Clooney in Up in the Air. I think, what would he do? and then I try to be as prepared as possible. It can be tough with all the different rules around the world, but staying organized helps the process so much more. My favourite are the people going through immigration without their passports out. What do they think that they can just walk through? They have an entire hour in the line up to get things ready and then they walk up to the counter, open their purse and search for it. It’s amazing:-)

  24. Love it! These are great tips…and I’m especially guilty of wanting to pet the “sniffing dogs”. they are just so darned cute πŸ˜‰

    • Agreed, especially the little beagles. I was doing a little research and they have the cutest name too…the Beagle Brigade. Just adorable.

    • Me too. They are so energetic too. They seem to love their job. They get to sniff everything and then get treats!

  25. I understand where you’re coming from here, I just object to living under this kind of oppression. Fearmongering is the currency of the power-hungry.

    “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger.”
    – Hermann Goering, Hitler’s Reich Marshall, at the Nuremberg Trials

    Look up “We Won’t Fly” on Facebook for more info on not being treated like a criminal simply because you want to exercise your right to travel.

    • Hey Katrina, thanks for the heads up on We Won’t Fly. I checked it out. It is true, we have started to dread the act of flying. It has become a miserable experience. Each airport is different with what they will allow us to take on and what type of searches they do and what they check. We can’t keep up to the daily changes. Once when boarding on one flight, they confiscated eveyrone’s liquids that they had just bought in the airport after already going through security. They were taking away unopened cans of coke that were bought at the gift shop right beside the gate. That made no sense at all.