Why you shouldn’t wear lotion at the airport

A common ingredient found in soap and hand lotion can set off airport sensors.

Why you shouldn’t wear lotion at the airport

Who knew that wearing lotion at the airport could cause so much trouble?

Tamara Gane certainly found out the hard way. In an article published on Fodor’s, she reveals her story.

“I was running late for a flight out of Las Vegas. Luckily, the TSA lines were short. I put my shoes and belongings in the security bin and walked through the sensor. Next, I was politely asked to step to the side and the TSA agent waved an electronic wand over my hands. I didn’t think much of it until she radioed her supervisor to ask for assistance – that’s when I learned my hands tested positively for explosives,” she wrote.

“Explosives!”

Ms Gane was asked if she’d handled a gun or gunpowder that day, to which she replied ‘no’.

After being taken to a private room where she was “subjected to a polite, but thorough, search”, she was later informed that some soaps and lotions containing glycerine set off airport security sensors.

Glycerine is a very common ingredient in cleaning and hand care products.

This knowledge came too late for Ms Gane, who missed her flight. She was told that it’s a common occurrence, with passengers missing flights every day under similar circumstances.

So, follow these simple tips to avoid this happening to you.

BYO soap
Don’t trust airport soaps. Bring your own glycerine-free soap bar.

Rinse your hands well
Whatever soap you use, ensure you rinse off any sign or feel of soapy residue.

Don’t wear lotion to the airport
Unless you’re confident of the contents of your hand lotion, don’t use it at the airport.

Leave extra time
Even if your lotion and soap are glycerine-free, leave some extra time to get through security – the person in front of you may not have read this article!

Have you ever been pulled aside for an extra-special security check? How was your experience?

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    COMMENTS

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    hyacinth
    4th Apr 2019
    12:02pm
    This happened to me in 2003 I was travelling to Kansas to visit my daughter It started at Launceston Airport where I had to remove shoes and was checked all over ,again at Melbourne
    and when I was at LA airport I was taken to a small room where I had to remove my blouse and then had my body, hair , hands and feet scanned with the electronic wand. I was completely terrified by this time. The lady asked me if I knew why I was being searched and after a negative reply asked me if I had been touching explosives which of course I had not. I was never told anything about soaps containing glycerine. My luggage was three days late in arriving at Kansas. The same procedure was followed on my return journey home. At Melbourne airport on alighting from the plane all passengers were asked to carry bags on their right shoulder and to keep a 2 metre distance from the person in front and to follow yellow tape on the ground. Security people were along this line. Again my luggage did not arrive for three days and when it did arrive there was a printed sheet saying my luggage had been searched and they hoped that it had been packed to my satisfaction . It was a completely harrowing experience .Weeks later I spoke to someone who worked for Customs and he said that most probably they were looking for someone with a similar profile ...a woman. about the same age and travelling alone. It put me off flying for a very long time.
    hyacinth
    4th Apr 2019
    12:02pm
    This happened to me in 2003 I was travelling to Kansas to visit my daughter It started at Launceston Airport where I had to remove shoes and was checked all over ,again at Melbourne
    and when I was at LA airport I was taken to a small room where I had to remove my blouse and then had my body, hair , hands and feet scanned with the electronic wand. I was completely terrified by this time. The lady asked me if I knew why I was being searched and after a negative reply asked me if I had been touching explosives which of course I had not. I was never told anything about soaps containing glycerine. My luggage was three days late in arriving at Kansas. The same procedure was followed on my return journey home. At Melbourne airport on alighting from the plane all passengers were asked to carry bags on their right shoulder and to keep a 2 metre distance from the person in front and to follow yellow tape on the ground. Security people were along this line. Again my luggage did not arrive for three days and when it did arrive there was a printed sheet saying my luggage had been searched and they hoped that it had been packed to my satisfaction . It was a completely harrowing experience .Weeks later I spoke to someone who worked for Customs and he said that most probably they were looking for someone with a similar profile ...a woman. about the same age and travelling alone. It put me off flying for a very long time.
    Tom Tank
    4th Apr 2019
    1:49pm
    Everytime going through an airport because of knee replacements. This is fair enough but despite having removed my shoes before even attempting to go through I frequently get held up because at Melbourne airport security they only have one wand to pass over the body. If anyone else, and many of us oldies have knee or hip replacments, we have to wait until that one wand if available.
    During this time the other stuff, wallets, passport, laptop etc are unattended at the end of the conveyor line which had passed these valuable items through the x-ray machine to be viewed. Anyone could pick something up as if it were theirs and I am sure the airport won't accept responsibility. Given the very healthy profits the privatised airports are making why only one wand shared between multiple security checks?
    HDRider
    4th Apr 2019
    2:26pm
    A woman recently died exactly as you suggest , she saw an opportunity to steal a laptop and stuff while the person was being searched and needed around.
    From here you have two choices, catch a flight (DUMB) or leave the security area (just as dumb).
    Why? Because you are on camera the whole time and will be caught.
    Responsibility? Tricky, but, in due your insurance will pay out when sec make a statement!
    casey
    4th Apr 2019
    2:29pm
    My wife had a shoulder arthodesis and has a massive amount of metal in her body. I always carry a copy of her x-rays but never ever sets of the alarms. We were told the metal used doesn't affect the scanner. I however took of my watch, belt and everything else metalic but set off the alarms. It turned out to be a tiny bit of foil from a packet of lifesavers in my pocket.
    Tom Tank
    4th Apr 2019
    1:49pm
    Everytime going through an airport because of knee replacements. This is fair enough but despite having removed my shoes before even attempting to go through I frequently get held up because at Melbourne airport security they only have one wand to pass over the body. If anyone else, and many of us oldies have knee or hip replacments, we have to wait until that one wand if available.
    During this time the other stuff, wallets, passport, laptop etc are unattended at the end of the conveyor line which had passed these valuable items through the x-ray machine to be viewed. Anyone could pick something up as if it were theirs and I am sure the airport won't accept responsibility. Given the very healthy profits the privatised airports are making why only one wand shared between multiple security checks?
    Bushbaby
    4th Apr 2019
    2:09pm
    I can't go through the electronic scanners as I have electronic implants in my back and also can't walk without my crutches, so have to wait in a wheelchair for a wand scan every time. I guess I'm lucky that I can't ever travel alone because that means I always have someone to take care of hand luggage etc. I've had 'interesting' experiences overseas at airports sometimes where it's been very difficult to explain to non-English speakers about the implants. The only way I was able to avoid being forcibly pushed through the scanners at one airport was to grab the scanner frames and yell 'Pacemaker'. Although I don't have a pacemaker, this is the only thing I have found that seems to make sense to everyone, regardless of their language.
    HDRider
    4th Apr 2019
    2:31pm
    Sorry, but it would take a lotta that stuff to set a wand of simply because it isn't concentrated! Did the person smother it on?
    I also find it hard to believe that a washroom would have a product that would set a scanner on the warpath!
    jackiet
    4th Apr 2019
    3:00pm
    I always get scanned by the hand wand - always. No idea why.

    In Jersey airport, a blonde Russian-sounding woman did the usual search, then she said 'I need your hendbeg'

    'Why?' I asked, 'What are you looking for?'

    'Hexplosives,' she said. I found it hard not to laugh while she scanned everything in my bag. As an ageing grandma, I wonder what it is that makes me so suspicious-looking.
    Triss
    4th Apr 2019
    3:32pm
    Me too, Jackiet. It doesn’t matter whether I’m travelling alone or with others, I’m always picked out to be scanned.
    KSS
    7th Apr 2019
    2:36pm
    Me too whether for a domestic it international flight. I have also been taken off to a private room at LA airport and been searched and my luggage gone through. Secure in the fact that I had done nothing wrong and not carrying anything illegal and that nothing would be found, I found the whole experience more interesting than scary. I would far rather that than something get through to the flight. You just need to stay calm, follow all instructions and be polite. The only thing I would say is that the USA Border control could do with some customer service training to moderate their attitude, but there is no. Point in getting get up over it because you won't win!
    hyacinth
    4th Apr 2019
    4:57pm
    Yes Jackiet I was 68 at the time of my awful experience !!
    hyacinth
    4th Apr 2019
    4:57pm
    Yes Jackiet I was 68 at the time of my awful experience !!
    Charlie
    4th Apr 2019
    9:53pm
    Don't wear lotion anywhere, so thick that it wipes off on tables, benches, chairs where other people can get it on them , plus the fragrance that goes with it.
    Alan
    4th Apr 2019
    11:37pm
    I have a hip prothesis so am regularly stopped going through security. In most overseas countries I tell them of my prothesis and they automatically do a body scan or pat down. No problems.

    For some reason when going through security in Australia they insist they I go back through security and then come forward again. The result never changes so I have wasted my time on a redundent second check. In this situation I usually insist on being checked or patted down in a separate room because if they waste my time then I will waste theirs. I have no problems with a public check and that is what happens overseas. Either way I understand that they are doing a job and I will be polite towards them.
    Rae
    5th Apr 2019
    8:08am
    Passing through Bankok airport and almost to the strip search point when I remembered a metal hairlip I was wearing.

    Security can be a bitch but blowing up mid flight would be far worse.


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