WEST CHESTER, Ohio -- Knives, especially those disguised as toothbrush handles, aren’t permitted on airplanes, but a lobster that weighs more than 20 pounds can be placed in checked or carry-on luggage.
That’s just some knowledge that the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, drops regularly to its more than 770,000 Instagram followers, all from the comfort of a West Chester man’s home.
"Believe it or not, live lobsters are a common thing, it’s an everyday thing, you just don’t see 20-pound lobster every day," said Bob Burns, who runs the account. "You have to contact your airline for their policy and procedure. I know as far as checked bags, they have to be in a cooler or container."
That’s the kind of information Burns knows is important to some travelers, and although the TSA’s Instagram isn’t here to entertain, it provides useful knowledge to travelers in an approachable, and often funny, way.
"We don’t just get into something because everyone else is doing it, we look at things we can use and be successful with," Burns said, about starting the TSA’s account. "It is really popular, a different demographic for the blog and a younger audience."
Burns, born-and-raised in Hamilton, has been running the TSA’s Instagram account, @TSA, since June 2013. He’s worked with the TSA since 2002 and took over blogging and Twitter for the government agency in 2008.
After a few years in DC, he’s been able to call Greater Cincinnati home again.
The TSA’s social media group has a small staff that mans the @AskTSA twitter account, which sees around 1,000 questions per day, and communicates regularly with regional spokespeople about what’s going in airports.
That’s how Burns gets his best content for Instagram, finding out what’s happening across the country, usually through incident reports. The reports he looks through never have photos, but he can request them and sometimes the photo is worth a post.
"I would say, the craziest thing I’ve seen was a corpse, a rotting corpse that was used in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie as a prop," Burns said. "I don’t know why they were traveling with it, but they were wheeling it through the airport in a wheel chair."