West Chester dad runs the TSA's hilarious Instagram

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."

 

It would probably stick in your craw if I said no, so I’m happy to say that you can treat your northern friends to some yummy crawfish. Conversationally, did you know that you can keep your food items fresh with up to five-pounds of dry ice? Click on the link in our bio and search “dry ice.” - This is a screenshot of a tweet sent to the @AskTSA account on Twitter. Have you ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item? Fret no more! Now you can simply snap a picture and tweet it to @AskTSA or send it via Facebook Messenger and our team will get back to you promptly with an answer. If you're a regular follower of this account, I'm sure you can think of many situations where it would have behooved somebody to send us a picture first. And that's not all. Contact us about any TSA related issue or question you might have. We can even help you with TSA Pre✓® issues. We look forward to answering your questions, 8am-10pm ET weekdays; 9am-7pm weekends/holidays. #AskTSA #TSATravelTips

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Those travelers in Atlanta were able to take their prop with them, Burns said.

Other items Burns has posted include an entire pizza in a pizza box, a stick of butter, brass knuckles and even a can of Skyline chili.

 

As a Cincinnatian, I am very familiar with #CincinnatiChili and since I'm not in Cincy at the moment, you have just triggered my crave! Unfortunately, you can’t pack cans of chili in your carry-on bag. However, you may pack them in your checked bag. If you’re traveling out of Cincinnati, you can find cans of chili in the gift shops by your gate. - This is a screenshot of a tweet sent to the @AskTSA account on Twitter. Have you ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item? Fret no more! Now you can simply snap a picture and tweet it to @AskTSA or send it via Facebook Messenger and our team will get back to you promptly with an answer. If you're a regular follower of this account, I'm sure you can think of many situations where it would have behooved somebody to send us a picture first. And that's not all. Contact us about any TSA related issue or question you might have. We can even help you with TSA Pre✓® issues. We look forward to answering your questions, 8am-10pm ET weekdays; 9am-7pm weekends/holidays. #AskTSA #TSATravelTips

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Snapchat might be next for the TSA. Burns said they’ve discussed taking customer questions via Snapchat.

"We could get a younger demographic, a lot of younger travelers will use that to reach out for questions," he said.

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