This week, HuffPost blogger and National Geographic Traveler's reader advocate Christopher Elliott asked for your most pressing travel questions. Many of you responded with personal stories and great confusion over TSA regulations and flight plans. Below, Elliott has responded to a few of them. If you have a question or concern about flying and TSA rules, email email@example.com or tweet to @huffposttravel and your question may be featured.
QUESTION: Assuming that all TSA agents receive the same training, why is there such inconsistency in the screening of handcarry luggage from one airport to the next? It is annoying and frustrating to have a carry-on pass through several screens with no issue and then have TSA demand a hands-on check including the removal of contents into bins for rescreening for the very same bag with the very same contents. - TeddyB from Honolulu
ANSWER: TeddyB, that's a great question, because I was flying through Honolulu last week, and my son accidentally left a full cup of harmless yogurt in his carry-on bag -- and it got through. The screeners are under such pressure to screen a massive amount of luggage that they can't possibly catch every dangerous or potentially dangerous item. At the same time, the TSA intentionally changes the way it screens passengers from airport to airport, arguing that by being unpredictable, it makes it more difficult for terrorists to plan an attack. I think a time will come in the near future when computers, liquids and gels can remain in your luggage -- and your shoes can stay on their feet.
QUESTION: Is there any way a person having had knee replacements can get through security without having to be patted down? Some airports have scanners and that is O.K., but otherwise the pat-down can be quite intrusive physically, especially to an older person. - Mallow, Rochester, MN
ANSWER: It depends. If your knees set off the metal detector, you'll either be scanned by a full-body scanner or patted down. There's no way to predict if your pat-down will be by the book -- which is to say, it's quick, noninvasive and professional -- or, you know ... the opposite. Certainly, telling the TSA agent that you have knee replacements and asking that agent to be gentle, are good ways to ensure you won't feel like you've just been to the proctologists.
QUESTION: I am transgender and in the beginning of my transition from male to female. I will be traveling across the country by air making various connector flights. I am concerned about being transgender and dealing with TSA at the various airports. I use breast forms and padding to round my figure and I am wondering what problems I may encounter with dealing TSA, as well as what things I can do to make going through TSA easier. - Laura, Los Angeles, CA
ANSWER: The TSA has a special section for transgender travelers, which is a good starting point for you. I would urge you to review it and to be mindful that while your screening will most likely be done by the book, there's an off-chance that you'll be working with a TSA employee who doesn't fully appreciate your concerns. If feel uncomfortable, don't hesitate to politely ask for a supervisor. Remember, you can request a private screening. But again, for more details, please read have a look at the TSA site.
QUESTION: How do I get certified, so that I avoid lines at airports? - Bruce
ANSWER: It's all right here. Good luck!
Follow Christopher Elliott on Twitter: www.twitter.com/elliottdotorg