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Airport Security - Part 1

Airport Security - Part 1

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Airport Security 1 – Checked luggage X-ray

Hello! In this lesson we will learn the English associated with going through airport security checkpoints in the U.S. All commercial air travel in the U.S. involves going through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints.

The purpose of the TSA examination to be sure that nobody is bringing aboard any items that could hurt the other passengers or disable the plane. Your checked luggage will be X-rayed after you check in for your flight. You will probably be able to watch this X-ray process. If there are any unidentifiable items in your luggage, the luggage will be opened and examined by a security agent. If your luggage draws suspicion, you might be detained or not allowed to fly. Therefore, it is important not to pack any items that are not allowed. You may not pack the following items:

Flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint

Flares, explosives

Aerosols, except for personal care items in small quantities. (but expect them to be checked)

Realistic replicas of explosives



Gas torches

Lighter fluid

Turpentine, paint thinner

Chlorine bleach

Spillable batteries (except those in wheelchairs)

Spray paint

Tear gas

Vehicle airbags

Hand grenades

If you are not sure whether one or more of your items might not be allowed onboard, ask a representative of your airline before you leave home. Each airline also has its own list of prohibited items. Your airline might have a list that is more restricted than the U.S. list of prohibited items.

After you check-in for your flight, you will be directed to the X-ray area, where a TSA agent will ask "Is your luggage locked?". If you say yes, the agent will say "Please unlock it." Or "We can't accept locked luggage." because the TSA agents have to be able to open your luggage if they see something suspicious.

The agent will also ask "Do you have any weapons?" or "Do you have any firearms or weapons?". We must tell the truth to the agents, so if we have any weapons in our luggage, we must say so by saying "Yes, I do.". Otherwise, answer truthfully "No." or "No, I don’t.".

In this dialog, Jennifer and David have just finished checking in at their airline counter. They are taking their checked luggage to the X-ray area where a TSA agent is going to ask them some questions and X-ray their luggage.

Jennifer: You didn't lock your suitcase, did you?

David: No, I remembered to unlock it.

Jennifer: You didn't bring along a cigarette lighter, did you?

David: No, you know I quit smoking.

Jennifer: Okay, let's go get our baggage X-rayed.

TSA agent: Good morning, folks. How are you today?

Jennifer and David: Fine, great.

TSA agent: Put your suitcase in the machine. Do you have any weapons, explosives, or flammable liquids?

Jennifer: No, we don’t.

David: No, we don't.

TSA: Okay, your luggage is cleared, you can go to your gate at any time.

David: Thank you.

Jennifer: Thank you.

David: Let's go through the checkpoint now.

Jennifer: Okay.

In this conversation, Jennifer asks David "You didn't lock your suitcase, did you?". She is asking this question because TSA will not accept locked luggage. In this case Jennifer asked David about it, but it is also a question that the TSA agents might ask. They might say "Is your baggage unlocked?", Is your luggage unlocked?", "Is your suitcase unlocked?", Is your bag unlocked?". If your luggage is unlocked, you should say "Yes, it is unlocked." or "No, It is locked.". If it is locked, the

TSA agents will ask you for the key or will ask you to unlock it before they agree to X-ray it. The TSA agent might ask "Do you have the key?" or "Will you unlock it please?". They might say "Unlock it.". If it is locked, you need to unlock it before going any further in the security process.

David says "No, I remembered to unlock it.". He could have said "No, it is not locked." Or "It isn't locked." or "No it is unlocked." or "It is locked, but I have the key.". David knows that if his luggage is locked, the TSA agent will have him unlock it. He knows that the TSA will break the lock or cut his luggage open if he does not provide the key.

Jennifer asks "You didn't bring along a cigarette lighter, did you?". She remembers that no flammable liquids are allowed in the checked luggage, so she is asking to be sure David did not accidentally bring a lighter. Although Jennifer is asking David, the TSA agent might ask the same or a similar question: "Do you have any flammable liquids?", or "Do you have any flammable liquids or gels?". The TSA agent might ask "Are there any flammable liquids in your suitcase?", or "Did you pack any explosives or flammable liquids?".

David answers Jennifer "No, you know I quit smoking.", but he would answer the TSA agent by saying only "No."

David remembers that any jokes or funny comments will be taken seriously by the TSA agents. He does not joke about guns, flammable liquids, explosives, firearms, terrorism, or anything at all. Even though we know that David likes to joke around, he knows that any joke or sarcasm will land him in a detention room and he will not be allowed to fly. He might even be arrested.

Jennifer says "Okay, let’s go get our baggage X-rayed.". She could have said "Let's get our luggage X-rayed.", or "Let get our suitcases X-rayed.". She knows that they will not have to carry their luggage anymore after it is X-rayed. After X-ray, the luggage is taken away and loaded onto the plane.

The TSA agent says "Good morning, folks. How are you today?". All questions from TSA agents are asked for a purpose, even this question. The agents are on the lookout for odd behavior and strange answers. David and Jennifer answer this question honestly by saying "Fine.", and "Great.".

The TSA agent then says "Put your suitcase in the machine. Do you have any weapons, explosives, or flammable liquids?". This question is fairly standard, but the TSA agent could also have asked "Do you have any firearms, explosives, or flammable liquids?". If the honest answer is anything except "No.", travelers will be stopped and possibly not allowed to travel.

Jennifer and David both answer honestly "No, we don’t.". And although David feels like joking around, he does not, because he knows any jokes will be taken seriously, no matter how funny they are.

The TSA agent says" Okay, your luggage is cleared, you can go to your gate at any time.". The agent might have said "You are clear; you can go to your gate." or "Go ahead to your gate, your luggage is cleared." or "You can proceed to your gate whenever you are ready." or "Proceed to your gate.".

David and Jennifer both say "Thank you." to the agent. David then says "Let's go through the checkpoint now.". He could have said "Let's go through security now." or "Let's go through the security checkpoint now." or "Now it's time to go through security.".

He might have asked Jennifer "Are you ready to go through the security checkpoint?".

Jennifer answers "Okay.". Jennifer is ready to go through the TSA security checkpoint.

Great! You are a world traveler, your English is up to the task of getting around, and you have already checked in for your flight and checked your luggage through to your destination. In our next lesson, we will learn the English associated with going through the TSA security checkpoint. "Enjoy your trip!".