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Special Project

Special Project
From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

TSA Instagram

Audience Honor in Instagram Presence


TSA’s Instagram account is the “Princess of Puns, the King of K9s, the Teller of Travel Tips," and we’re admirers of alliteration. Some have called TSA’s social media presence a best-in-class leader across the federal government. What separates us from most other government social media accounts is our whimsical take on informing travelers about airport security screening by using pun-filled posts combined with real content posted by our key audience – the airline traveler. TSA’s social media has an authentic tone and unique personality coupled with a relentless listening to the wants and needs of the traveling public, bringing fun travel tips to life!

Didn’t think we could make transportation security tongue-in-cheek funny? Think again! Our posts consist of not-so-cleverly disguised items discovered at our checkpoints, airport stories and travel tales, and tips for making the airport experience a little less stressful. We often collaborate not only with some of our federal BFFs (TSA + NPS = <3), but with our key audience, who have the occasional opportunity to send us their best pics and captions. This is what keeps our “travel tips fam” coming back for more. Our Instagram community comes for the puns, but they stay for the awkward Dad jokes or our highlights of adorable, tail-wagging explosive-detecting K9s.  

Our small team, comprised entirely of federal workers (not one contractor!), is a reflection of the travel community. We’re Gen Z to Boomers. We’re from small towns and big cities. We’ve got social media newbies, and we’ve got social media vets who remember the days of MySpace fondly. A couple of our team members are even former TSA officers! Our differences are our strengths. That’s reflected in our creative process - our team meetings are never lacking laughter - and our connection with our audience. Whether it’s creating a carousel of concealed knives, hosting regular “Ask Me Anything” days via Stories, or a reel where we wonder if our followers can “Guess the Airport,” our team pulls together relevant, relatable, and riveting content. Better yet, it’s all done without a single ounce of outsourcing.

Strategy and Execution

Assuming you’re not already following us (which you should be – we’re the reason travelers smile!), we challenge you to check out our account for yourself. Each day, we reach 252k travel fans on average. Last year, we reached over 54 million people on Instagram which was increased from 34 million in 2020.  Our “Top 10 Catches” of the year video, which showcases some of the strangest things we’ve discovered at our security checkpoints, was just featured as a part of Jimmy Fallon’s opening monologue on The Tonight Show! But really, where else are you going to see a Darth Vader Build-a-Bear used to smuggle BUTTER KNIVES? Or tips on how to travel with a “snackle box” filled with charcuterie or, better yet, an 850-pound weed brownie? Heck, we even posted a video of someone jumping rope at an airport, and that gained 250k views in less than 24 hours!

We jump on trends in real time. We’re pop-culture pros. Each day, we think of how we can stay true to our brand, our voice, our agency’s mission, while also educating our community and occasionally making them laugh. An educated passenger is a more confident traveler, right?


Ready for some examples?


Doggo Retirement in 3…2…1…

If you’ve been following us, you’ve already met our buddy Cooper. We’re going to need you to put your paws together one last time for our favorite furry friend. After 10 years of service, TSA’s longest serving explosives detection K-9 is now celebrating something even we humans look forward to… retirement!

So thanks, Coop, for being one of our best buddies and for helping keep our airports safe! We hope you enjoy your golden years with plenty of naps, belly rubs, and new adventures ahead.  

IG family… you know what to do. Boop that snoot to wish Coop a happy retirement!

Check out the full post here.


Tony Hawk – Most unrecognizable celebrity at TSA

Hey Tony! We saw you recently dropped in during the @Olympics. Definitely noticed you there, but our hawk-eyed officers aren’t in the celebrity-recognizing business.

Don’t get it twisted, we’re huge fans and may not make that mistake twice. We’re busy detecting threats to the transportation system. After all we screened over 2 million people yesterday. That’s like doing a 360 flip mute to fakie over and over again.

Just as a reminder, travelers: Make sure you carve out some time before May 2023 to get your REAL-ID. The deadline will be here before the next summer games, so it's never too soon to snag yours! Kickflip your way to our link in bio to learn more.

Check out the full post here.


We’re the two best friends that anybody could have!

🎵Sweet dreams are made of this…🎵

@nationalparkservice - We're back here roping you in for more info. Can you help us find a better place for this traveler to chill out?! I mean… we don’t think @flysea is the greatest sway and chill park out there!

**Hammocks are good to go but if you have any poles or stakes they must go in checked bags. Here’s the real cliff hanger so we don’t leave you hanging on our hammock guidance. Check with your airport for additional details on their policies about hanging your swing ‘n’ things in the terminal.**

Who else is swinging into Friday like…

Check out the full post here.


IG Reels

Collaboration has been key for our team over the last year, and that’s especially true when it comes to our short-form videos. We’ve worked hand-in-hand with airports across the country for our “Guess the Airport” reels series. These 30-second snapshots provide an abbreviated walkthrough of an airport’s terminal, and our followers are encouraged to guess which airport they think it is. Each week, hundreds of travel aficionados give us their best guesses. Also, for anyone still reluctant to travel, this series provided our community with a way to still feel as if they’re there. Like the FOMO isn’t too real. Ok, sure… slot machines outside of Gate A12 might mean LAS (Las Vegas) but did you know that the airport in Kalispell, Montana has a giant mounted buck in their departures area?


IG Stories

Providing real-time answers became even more critical in recent years, due mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic. We regularly host “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) events on Instagram Stories, allowing travelers to come directly to us with their questions and concerns. This became a critical method for sharing updated policies (such as the requirement to wear face masks throughout airports and while traveling) and clarifying screening changes. Our AMAs continue to create a space where travelers can come and interact and where we can provide the most current travel advice, while still having fun.


There is no doubt that 2020 and 2021 impacted travel globally. We’re proud that, even during the toughest of times, our community continues to grow. We now have over 1 million followers who count on us to help make their airport experience that much better… or, at the very least, to make them smile. We’re not just content creators, we’re analytical innovators – we continuously monitor ever-changing algorithms, the tone of the comments we receive, and we build our content organically each and every day. There’s no cut and paste template for this account.

No matter when you take your next vacation or business trip, TSA will be there to keep you safe, informed, and smiling along the way!


Video for TSA Instagram

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Transportation Security Administration, Serving the Travelling Public, Airline Companies and Travel related Stakeholders