Are holiday sweaters the new TSA target?

Think you'll sail through security in a sweater like this? Think again. The lurex threads that make the fabric glimmer also set off body scanners.

We've heard about the trouble with snow globes. And wrapped gifts. And even big hairdos. And when I checked in at Washington DC's Reagan National Airport last weekend, I probably should have known I was setting myself up for scrutiny. After all, our story "7 Surprising Items That Set Off Airport Security" pointed out that even the tiniest bit of gum-wrapper foil wadded up in a pocket can set off airport metal detectors. And yet, it never occurred to me that my snazzy gold sweater—shot through with lurex threads—would earn me a TSA patdown.

"Cute top, but not airport friendly," the TSA agent said as she searched me for weapons. Apparently, the metallicized thread in the sweater yarn was making the scanner go crazy.

That got me thinking about all the other ways a festive holiday sweater could cause a travel delay: jingle bells dangling from Rudolph's harness, tiny metal ornaments, and the worst offender of all—battery-powered mini-lights strung on an intarsia Christmas tree.

Okay, so probably no savvy Budget Travel reader would be silly enough to try to fly in a battery-powered sweater, but gold threads? An easy mistake to make—and lucky for you, reader, one that I've made for you.

Have you ever been singled out for a similarly silly-seeming reason? What are the most surprising things you've been pulled aside for by the TSA?


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