Testing Positive for Explosives at LaGuardia Airport TSA Security


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Here’s an interesting experience I had this afternoon at New York’s LaGuardia airport. As a member of CLEAR and TSA Pre-check, normally airport security is a breeze, however that was not the case today. I entered the CLEAR line and was through to the check point in a minute, however this is where things went downhill.

Testing Positive for Explosives at LaGuardia Airport TSA Security

Testing Positive for Explosives at LaGuardia Airport TSA Security

As I went through the metal detector, the beep went off which meant I had been randomly selected for additional screening. I could either go through the full body scanner or opt for a pat down. I decided to opt for a pat down. The officer patted me down and then swabbed my hands for explosives and ran it through the machine. I looked over at the machine that was beeping and it showed “Explosives Detected”. The officer immediately went to call his supervisor.

The supervisor came over and they did a full bag inspection of my carry on bags which had already went through the X-ray machine without causing any sort of bag screening. After my bags were checked, they were swabbed for explosives as well, and came back negative.

Next, I was taken into a “private room” and given an additional pat down, and then the officer left and came back 5 minutes later and said I was free to go, as this time the results came back negative. I really don’t know what caused my hands to test positive for explosives, or if it was just faulty equipment but the supervisor wasn’t alarmed as he said it isn’t all that uncommon…

Meanwhile this whole ordeal took about 25 minutes waiting for the initial pat down, having my bags searched, and getting an additional pat down. Needless to say I was in need of a Woodford on the rocks as my pre-departure beverage as I boarded my flight.

Have you ever tested positive for explosives after going through airport security? Feel free to comment below!

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Comments

  1. I had an extensive explosive check of my backpack at LHR once. The guy asked how often I used the bag. I said everyday to work and back. He searches, swabs some more but seems satisfied it’s ok. He then says, “You might clean the bag.” LOL

    It did cut into my time in the Concorde Room

  2. Yes, at DEN earlier this year. Same drill…tested positive on the hand swab, had to do the pat down and have everything rescreened and tested…took forever and everything came back negative, but what took even longer was waiting for a supervisor. I had to wait at least 15 minutes for a supervisor to come over and give clearance, and I almost missed my flight.

  3. I had a big microphone in my suitcase which was swabbed at SJC and came back positive. I had a pat down, thorough bag search with more swabbing, and they sent my shoes through by themselves before releasing me.

  4. Yep, had this problem once. Turned out the night before I had been out with friends and we lit sparklers for new years at midnight. Shortly after, we packed our bags for an early departure to the airport in the morning. That little bit of unseen residue from the sparklers set off the swab.

  5. The machine will randomly create a false positive to make sure that the TSA agent is following procedures. One time I was flying through Burbank, and Southwest at the time did not have back-end screening for checked baggage, so an agent must swab the checked item before accepting it. My item was tested positive, but the only problem is it’s a big empty box with only styrofoam inserts for wine bottles – clearly no bombs. They had to fill out paperwork to confirm that they have performed their duties.

  6. I remember a few years ago here in FL, people who had played golf were positive from the nitrates in the fertilizers.

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