The woman behind one of Instagram’s funniest travel accounts

You’ll get more laughs than travel tips!

Meet the woman behind one of Instagram’s funniest travel accounts – CST

According to The New York Times, Janis Burl got her start as a Transportation Security Officer (TSO), working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ensuring safe and healthy travel for all who fly the friendly skies. Like most TSO employees, Burl was responsible for handling metal detectors, routine pat-downs, and confiscating or destroying anything that cannot fit on the plane or exceeds 3.4 ounces. . In short, she essentially supported the mission of the TSA, which is to “[protect] the country’s transportation systems to ensure the free movement of people and commerce.

While the TSA is known for its hands-on nature, about two years ago Burl had the opportunity to move on, taking over as social media manager for the organization. In her new role, she found the opportunity to connect with audiences through humor while reminding them of the very important and necessary do’s and don’ts of travel as outlined by the TSA.

“No one remembers what was on the morning news, but they will remember the joke you told them. If it takes humor to help you remember what you can and can’t do when you’re going through security, so humor is what we’ll provide. Whatever the public is talking about, we want to talk about it and we want to provide the public with travel advice in the process,” Burl told reporters. about his approach to social media management.

The agency’s social account describes itself as the “princess of puns”, “the storyteller of travel advice” and “the admirer of alliteration”, amassing more than a million followers since Burl took over. Last year, the page attracted 54 million users on Instagram alone, with their posts featured on The Tonight Show and The Today Show. Motivational speaker Simon Sinek also pointed to the TSA’s social account as a model example of how the government can develop relationships with the public through social media.

Popular posts include bizarre TSA discoveries, like a cat tucked inside a traveler’s clear plastic backpack or the recently discovered bazooka rocket launcher at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Burl says posts are siphoned off and collated by its six-person Instagram team, with the group doing its best to find interesting and trending posts that relate to their overall mission. Not only are they taking content that’s already circulating the internet, but they’re also getting on-the-ground commentary from active TSA agents. Burl says people would be surprised at what TSA agents uncover on a daily basis, and these unexpected things are social media gold for Burl and his team.

“[Posts that do well are] any image that has something you wouldn’t expect to see everyday, whatever. For example, we just published an article about the parts of a mannequin being folded and put on an airplane – who is going to see this every day? Or the guy skateboarding in the airport – literally, while he’s on the phone! – it was invaluable. I feel like I should have paid the guy off if I could have found him,” Burl said.

Burl has her own personal favorites that she’s found over the past two years, as well as highlights from her own experiences as an TSO that she’ll never forget, but she really hopes to give the audience as much information. as possible to help travel be as easy and safe as possible.

In addition to her six-person Instagram team, she also has 12 other team members who specifically answer questions on Facebook and Twitter. There they are launching “Ask TSA”, a type of question and answer set up where anyone, even those waiting in security check lines at the airport, can ask questions and receive answers on the spot. . The team has a response time of less than two minutes and found this to be particularly helpful.

To get your TSA questions answered and follow all your travel tips, follow these here.

Thank you for all the work you do, Ms. Burl! You are appreciated.

Photo courtesy of Rosem Morton/The New York Times

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