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10 Strange Items the TSA Found in People’s Luggage in 2018

 

Every year, the TSA screens about 700 million travelers across nearly 450 airports. That’s more than 2 million passengers each day. And while most people pass through security checkpoints without incident, a handful of travelers are stopped every day—sometimes for attempting to lug some truly bizarre items to their departing gate.

Thanks to the TSA’s Webby-winning Instagram account—made famous by the agency’s late social media guru Bob Burns, who passed away in October—officials have kept track of the wackier things airport security agents saw in 2018.

1. A PYTHON IN A HARD DRIVE

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Agent Neville Flynn would be extremely proud of our officers at the Miami International Airport (MIA). You see, Agent Flynn has HAD IT with snakes on planes, and our officers prevented a young Ball Python from flying the friendly skies this past Sunday. … A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories! … While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look. … The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ( @USFWS ) was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight. … Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking. … #SnakesOnPlane #SnakesAlmostOnAPlane #MIA #BGI #Miami #Barbados

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A traveler bound for Barbados apparently thought it was a good idea to reenact Snakes on a Plane when they socked this ball python into a nylon stocking, hiding it inside an external hard drive. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service swooped in to take the critter.

2. A FAKE BOMB

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Even if not real, replica or inert explosives are not allowed, at all, in carry-on or checked bags. Never. Nay. Nope. Negatory. Yeah, no… … While the actual item here looks a bit Wile E. Coyote-ish, the X-ray image was far more realistic. … When our officers spot a potential explosive on the X-ray monitor, they cannot just take the traveler’s word that the item is not real. A TSA Explosives Specialist or Police Department Bomb Squad must respond before the bag is ever opened. This can lead to costly evacuations, delays, and missed flights while explosives professionals determine whether the item is real or not. These types of items can lead to hefty fines and arrest. … This replica Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was in a traveler’s carry-on bag at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). As a result, the checkpoint was closed for a total of 19 minutes before the Chicago Police Bomb Squad was able to respond and clear the item.

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It might resemble something Wile E. Coyote would have concocted—and it may be 100 percent fake—but it’s still not allowed through security at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Anything that remotely resembles a weapon will cause intense security checks. (In this case, the security checkpoint was closed for 19 minutes, inconveniencing countless passengers.)

3. FIRECRACKERS

Please excuse this brief announcement: Don’t carry firecrackers—or anything else that goes “boom”—in your hand luggage. Especially a brand that has the word “Killer” in it.

4. WEDDING-THEMED HAND GRENADES

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We know it didn’t go down this way, but we’d like to imagine that the groom lobbed these inert well-dressed grenades over his shoulder to his groomsmen, just as bouquets are tossed to bridesmaids. We could see a conversation going something like this. … Chad: “I was so close to catching one, bruh.” … Randy: “Whatever, Chad! Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Oh wait…” … Randy & Chad: “Hahahahaha! Bruh…” … OK, back to the real world. These dapper inert grenades were wedding gifts for groomsmen. They were discovered in a checked bag at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). … When our officers spot a potential explosive on the monitor, they cannot just open the bag and take a looksee to find out if it’s real or not. A TSA explosives specialist or a police department bomb squad must respond before the bag is ever opened. This can lead to costly evacuations, delays, and missed flights. These types of items can also lead to hefty fines and arrest. Contact your preferred shipper about your options, because they can’t travel via commercial aircraft. So even though they aren’t real, they can cause a lot of headaches.

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We’ll let the TSA’s Instagram account explain why these are a bad idea: “When our officers spot a potential explosive on the monitor, they cannot just open the bag and take a looksee to find out if it’s real or not. A TSA explosives specialist or a police department bomb squad must respond before the bag is ever opened. This can lead to costly evacuations, delays, and missed flights. These types of items can also lead to hefty fines and arrest. Contact your preferred shipper about your options, because they can’t travel via commercial aircraft. So even though they aren’t real, they can cause a lot of headaches.”

5. FREDDY KRUEGER’S HAND

There is no loophole around the TSA’s knife policy: You may not bring any knives in your carry-on. You especially can’t bring them if they’re affixed to your fingertips. As the TSA elaborates, “While worn out fedoras and tattered green and red sweaters are discouraged in the fashion world, they are permitted at TSA checkpoints.” (You may stow a knife in your checked luggage.)

6. GIANT SCISSORS

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If you think these scissors will cut your travel time through the checkpoint, you’ve got the wrong idea. … Please don’t get snippy when our officers tell you that you can’t pack these ginormous ceremonial ribbon cutting scissors in your carry-on. … These were discovered in a carry-on bag at the Nashville International Airport (BNA). And it wasn’t by “shear” luck that our officers discovered them. They’re huge. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, these scissors were big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big they were. … However, scroll to the next picture and you’ll see a run of the mill regular pair of sewing scissors. These are allowed. At one point, all scissors were prohibited, but for the last 10-years or so, scissors have been permitted as long as they are no longer than 4-inches from the fulcrum. This picture is a screenshot of a tweet that was sent to our AskTSA team. … Speaking of the AskTSA team, have you ever wondered whether or not you can pack a certain item? 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. Well, fret no more! Now you can do just that! … Simply snap a picture and tweet it to AskTSA (twitter.com/asktsa), or send it via Facebook Messenger (facebook.com/asktsa) and our team will get back to you promptly with an answer. … And that's not all! Contact the team about any TSA related issue or question you might have. They can even help you if you don’t see TSA Pre✓® on your boarding pass. … The team looks forward to answering your questions, 9am-7pm daily. #AskTSA #TSATravelTips #TSA … #PSA – While it’s ok to pack scissors, you should never, ever run with them.

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Unlike knives, scissors are allowed in your carry-on luggage—as long as they are shorter than four inches from the fulcrum. These ceremonial ribbon-cutting scissors found at Nashville International Airport didn’t make the cut.

7. A PHONY IED

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The item you see pictured here is designed to look exactly like an improvised explosive device (IED). This is why after our officer spotted it on the X-ray image, six checkpoint lanes were immediately closed. Travelers were moved  to a safe distance to keep them out of harm’s way while the Port Authority Police, TSA explosives experts, and the Essex County Bomb Squad responded to ensure that the item was inert. Hundreds of travelers were inconvenienced. … The man carrying the IED in his carry-on bag was traveling to Florida to participate in a training event focused on X-ray detection of explosive devices. He knew full well that the inert IED he was transporting was a test item that was built and designed to mimic a fully-assembled bomb when viewed on an X-ray monitor. He should have known better than to bring an inert IED to an active TSA checkpoint. He was arrested by Port Authority Police. … TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000 to individuals who bring weapons to airports. Civil penalties are also issued to individuals who bring realistic replica explosives to checkpoints and to those who interfere with the security screening process. … This occurred on September 4th at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

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This fake improvised explosive device caused six checkpoint lanes to close at Newark Liberty International Airport. The TSA later learned that “the man carrying the IED in his carry-on bag was traveling to Florida to participate in a training event focused on X-ray detection of explosive devices.” Thankfully, the agents already had their training.

8. BULLET-SHAPED WHISKEY STONES

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What you see here are bullet-shaped whiskey stones. Once chilled, they keep your whiskey cold without watering it down as ice cubes would. Anyhoo, whiskey stones are fine to pack in carry-on bags, but not when they look like live bullets. To bring them on a trip, you’d have to bite the bullet and pack them in a checked bag. These were discovered recently in a carry-on bag at the Lewiston–Nez Perce County Airport (LWS) in Idaho. … These of course are not dangerous, and we’re not posting them to try and say we saved the day by finding them. This is just an attempt to pass along a friendly travel tip so others don’t make the same mistake. … While we’re talking about friendly travel tips, here’s the scoop on traveling with ammo. This info could really help you dodge a bullet. … Small arms ammunition (In checked bags only), including ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber and shotgun shells of any gauge must be securely boxed or included within a hard-sided case containing an unloaded firearm. … As far as empty shell casings, they’re allowed through the checkpoint as long as the projectile is no longer intact, and the primer has been removed or has been discharged. … If a bullet has no gun powder, yet still has the projectile attached, it is considered a replica and is not allowed in carry-on bags. These are common on necklaces and keychains. They need to be packed in checked baggage. … #RandomThought – Too much whiskey can lead to shooting your mouth off, so it could be said that you’d be dodging a bullet by drinking in moderation. … #tsa #lws

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It’s OK to transport a gun and ammunition on a flight as long as it’s properly stored in checked luggage. But placing it in your carry-on is a big no-no. In 2017, the TSA discovered nearly 4000 firearms at security checkpoints—most of them loaded—and that number is expected to rise when 2018’s numbers are finally tabulated. To say the least, the TSA is strict when it comes to anything that remotely resembles a weapon. That’s why these ammunition-shaped whiskey stones (usually used to chill a drink without watering it down) weren’t allowed.

9. AN INERT MORTAR ROUND

People try to bring inert weapons of war, like this mortar found at Evansville Regional Airport, through the security checkpoint more than you think. (Case in point: Somebody tried bringing rocket launchersthrough Hawaii’s Lihue Airport.) When security officials spot something like this, they have to bring in explosives experts to ensure the device is actually inert. Delays ensue. So just leave your faux bombs at home.

10. A LIVE CAT

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An Erie International Airport (ERI) TSA Officer let the cat out of the bag this week. Literally. And the cat’s name is Slim. Slim’s owners packed her in their checked bag. While this could have been extremely dangerous for the 6-month old cat, Slim is just fine and is currently residing under the care of the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania. … No worries though if you’d like to travel with your pets. Here’s how! … Checkpoint Screening: … Check with your airline first to inquire about any fees and policies. … Your pet will need to be screened via checkpoint screening if it’s traveling with you in the cabin of the plane. … We do not X-ray pets. However, there have been many occasions where passengers have assumed their pet needed to go through the X-ray. You can imagine the surprise of the X-ray operator when they see Fluffy’s skeleton roll across their monitor. It is not an unusual occurrence. Your pet will need to come out of its carrier, so it is a good idea to know how your pet will react. Many a cat has gone into a feline frenzy after being removed from its carrier. An angry cat is never a good thing. … Even if your travel is “off the leash,” you should strongly consider keeping your pet on a leash. The checkpoint is a noisy environment that can cause your pet to flee at its first opportunity. This happens with humans occasionally as well. Your pet can be carried through the walk through metal detector or walked through on leash. If your pet triggers an alarm, one of our officers will have to take a closer look. Pets are not screened with the body scanners. … Checked Baggage: … If your pet is traveling in a kennel, your airline will arrange for a TSA Officer to screen the kennel. Officers will need to inspect your kennel/carrier for prohibited items with you present. Sometimes this can be done visually, but it’s good to have a leash handy in case the officer asks you to remove your pet from the carrier.

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There are proper ways to transport your pet to your destination. Haphazardly stuffing your furry friend into your checked luggage is not one of them. At Erie International Airport, a security screener discovered this kitty (named Slim) stowed in a Florida couple’s checked baggage. Slim was turned over to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania. The couple, meanwhile, was charged with animal cruelty.

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