People Share the Weirdest Items Discovered by Airport Security
Anyone who has ever flown out of a commercial airport knows that there is one thing to be wary of when preparing for your flight: airport security. With strict regulations, tight limitations, tough agents and insanely specific rules about what you can and can’t bring on a plane, it’s almost impossible not to have at least one item confiscated in your traveling career.
While even simple items can cause an issue at the security gate — such as liquids, nail clippers and key chains — some objects are so weird that even the security agents hardly know what to do with them! It seems like it should be common knowledge that bringing a chainsaw or a live crocodile on a flight is off limits, yet people have still attempted to board with these things and even stranger items time and time again.
These are some fantastic stories of bizarre items confiscated by airport security agents from people who tried to sneak some odd, disturbing and concerning items on their flight!
Master Of Magnetism
This dude once came through with this massively powerful magnet. Like, 500 pounds or something. He had it in the front pocket of his bag. When it went through the scanner (it was checked luggage) it ripped out those roller bar things on the conveyor that sends it through. It was strange. I swear I held it nearly 2 feet from a metal luggage cart and I could feel it wanting to get pulled to it. It was crazy.
A 10-Year-Old’s Disneyland Homework Scissors
Once when I was around 10 years old, my family and I were going to Disneyland, so I thought I’d bring my pencil case with me so I could do homework on the plane. Turns out that there were scissors in there, so the guy just took them out and kept them. Granted, he didn’t take the whole case, but I was 10, with my family and going to Disneyland. I got new ones when I came back, but I still hold a grudge against that one guy.
A Snake in a Bottle (Which Was Later Politely Returned)
I had a bottled snake confiscated from me when I was arriving in New Zealand from Vietnam. I understood completely and didn’t argue with them, as it only cost me about $4. The biggest surprise was receiving it in the mail 2 weeks later with a letter justifying it by saying the snake wasn’t endangered.
A Gas-filled Chainsaw (That Made It Through Security)
Once when I was doing random searches at the international gate at San Francisco Airport, I found a chainsaw. Yep, someone managed to get their chainsaw past the x-ray and almost onto the plane. He was pretty surprised when I told him he couldn’t take it on the plane. It was full of gas too, so I couldn’t even do a gate check of his bag.
A Keyboard-Laced Trombone Case
I have a really weird sense of humor. Long story short: I glued a computer keyboard onto my trombone case. A harmless conversation starter, if you will. I’d had it for a couple months when I decide to go visit family. I’ll bring my trombone! Great idea! But when I got to security … Here’s how it all went down
I saw TSA and slowly realized why this was bad. The keyboard is to my leg as I hold it so no one can really see it. I manage to get to the X-ray without a problem and its looking good. It’s on the belt. Fits through the hole and I’m hoping the X-ray lady sees that the keyboard serves no function and there are no weapon wires running through my case. Fingers crossed. But when she looks at me and uses her radio I know what she saw. I forgot about the mechanical lyre. The 3 or 4 bottles of slide oil and cream. And the 3 feet of metal coiled cleaning wire. So this thing looks like weapon central.
That’s when a TSA miraculously appeared. Like they only pulled him out for special occasions because he wasn’t anywhere in the terminal when I got there. And I can see why. This gentleman is 6’6 and probably 230lb of mostly muscle. He grabs me and brings me into that “additional screening” room. (I feel like this is a good time to mention I’m a nerdy overweight 16-year-old band geek). So he starts interviewing me which is basically just going back and forth between “Why do you have that?” “I don’t know” “Is it yours?” “Yeah but I just thought it’d be funny” “Why do you have that?” All the while I’m watching TSA agents tear apart my case and what looks like messing up my trombone, but they literally can’t get past the keyboard. They took everything out of the case so all that’s left is a keyboard and black cloth and they just kept swiping it with that explosive detection cloth. For like 5 minutes I watched a TSA lady with the most concentrated face and two pairs of gloves wipe every nook and cranny on my case.
Needless to say, I’m absolutely freaking out and that’s when the big dude leaves and an old gray haired guy comes in and explains that I’m not going to be able to take my “object.” And I’m lucky he’s going to let me fly at all.
An Overwhelming Stockpile Of Box-Cutter Blades
In 2009, I flew out of one airport in Texas to go to New York for a weekend and only had a backpack (with a lot of pockets) since I don’t check bags, so everything went through the x-ray machine. No problems getting to New York. Upon my return trip, out of LaGuardia, I got pulled aside by two TSA agents about 3 seconds after my bag went in the x-ray machine. At the time, I was working a job in maintenance and hadn’t considered that I failed to check all of the pockets of my backpack (which I also used for work) before packing my stuff. Which led to the TSA agents asking why I had a box of approximately 100 box-cutter blade replacements and various screwdrivers in my bag.
I was immediately sweating bullets, thinking I was about to get thrown in jail, but then I remembered that I had my work ID in my wallet, which stated my position. I apologized profusely and explained that I really, truly had forgotten and that they could do whatever they needed with them, as I could just replace them for my job. Both agents were actually pretty understanding, took the stuff to properly destroy it, made me do the extra pat-down, and only delayed me about 10 minutes from time to entering the machine. I still felt like I had been put on some list, but it wasn’t until I landed in Texas later that I realized THE TSA AGENTS ON MY FLIGHT OUT OF TEXAS MISSED THEM ENTIRELY!
A Violent Deflation of a Little Kid’s Basketball
Once when I was traveling out of Thailand at the age of seven, the boarding desk told my family to deflate our basketball because it might burst due to high pressure. We stated that we would gladly deflate the ball but we couldn’t without tools. The man promptly grabbed the ball out of my hands, and I started crying. He walked to the side, grabbed a pair of scissors from the desk and stabbed my basketball multiple times.
A Side-Splitting Maple-Syrup Smuggler
We found a Japanese guy with a bottle of pure maple syrup taped to his inner thigh in my airport. Apparently, it’s hard to get in Japan, and he knew it was over the size limit to carry on a flight.
A Hilariously Vulgar BB Weapon
One time when my brothers and I were young, we went to Lebanon with my dad. While we were in the airport for the return flight, my brother forgot to mention that he bought a very real looking BB weapon that had unclothed girls drawn all over it. Anyways, while they were x-raying our bags, the security officer opened my brother’s bag and took out the weapon, looked at us and said what it was.
I will never forget the look on my dad’s face. He just stared at us and said he’d meet us inside the plane before walking away. We spent 10 minutes trying to convince them to let us have it back, but it didn’t work, and we didn’t want to be late for the flight. My little brother was very sad that day.
I started at Edinburgh Airport about a month ago. Within the first week, we had to confiscate an entire pig from someone’s hand luggage. They didn’t speak English, so we weren’t able to find out why they had it, but that’s the weirdest thing my manager had seen in the 20 years he’s been there.
A Prank Gone Horribly Wrong
When I was young, I put a toy cap weapon in my sister’s carry on bag. About 20 dudes with guns and stuff showed up, and our bags were all checked and we were searched. My dad denied having a weapon in the bag until I fessed up. The look my father gave me when I told them would make even the toughest of men cry. They gave us a warning and told us if we wanted my weapon back, we would have to send for it.
He didn’t start screaming till we got home, which made the four hour journey home the most tense experiences I will ever have.
A Set of “Dangerous” Juggling Clubs
When my brother and I were 12, we were flying to Minnesota to see our cousins. We both juggle, so we brought our juggling clubs. They were confiscated because they could be used as a weapon. We were taken to a back security room and asked a bunch of questions about if we knew how truly dangerous the clubs were.
A Spectrum of Wild Weapons (and a Bag of Puke)
I confiscated ninja throwing stars and a samurai sword from a guy who swore he was a licensed ninja. He even procured a certificate of his ninja achievements. I jokingly told the guy that if he was a ninja, he was doing a bad job at sneaking these items through security. My supervisors were not happy with me.
Let’s Cut to the Cheese
I went to Hawaii with my family and for some reason, my mom wanted to bring a block of cheese home with her. Because there are no weight or volume limits for cheese in carry-on, she brought it in her purse.
While we were going through security, the TSA agent pulled her aside and said that there was something that “resembled a block of an explosive chemical” in her carry-on and that additional agents were on their way to inspect it. Long story short, it was the cheese. They let her keep it after thoroughly examining her bag for about half an hour.
A Massive Half-Size Machete Souvenir
When my parents were visiting me in Uganda, my dad accidentally brought a half-size machete through the security check. He had bought it before they went to the airport as a souvenir for my uncle. They found it in his carry on and asked him what he was doing with it. When he told them, they put it back in the carry-on and said make sure you check it when you get to Brussels. Have a good flight!
A Pack of Banana-Driven Dogs
When my family and I went to Florida, some police dogs were barking like heck at my dad, and he was immediately taken into a room. Turns out dogs are good at sniffing out bananas as well as illegal substances.
Drink That Bottle Before You Get to Security!
I worked at Dulles airport for about two years. One time, some people had problems getting the drinks they bought through. They were like, “We bought it here,” but the TSA was like, “Nope,” and were going to confiscate it. So they drank a whole box (like 12 bottles) and boarded the plane.
A Salty Standoff Over a Nail File
I take 100+ flights a year for business and have carried the same basic content in my same toiletry bag for 8+ years of doing this. I never had an issue — until the time flying back from Cancun to Atlanta, the Mexican version of the TSA confiscated my tiny fingernail clippers. The reason (she says) is the one-inch file attached “could be a weapon.” Tired and frustrated, I raised my voice to argue a little bit, and I was immediately ringed by three armed guards — one even pointing his weapon at me! I somehow managed to get up the gall to bend the file back and forth a few times until it snapped off, handed it to her, and put the rest of the clippers back into my bag, smiling. I still carry around that file-less clipper.
Confiscated Salt But Ignored Illegal Firecrackers
I was flying back to the United States from Italy, and I had a jar of this really delicious salt and herb mix in the outer pocket of my backpack that was confiscated. I was upset because I was really looking forward to using that salt, but I guess airport staff can’t be too careful, right?
Anyway, after we landed in San Francisco, I reached into my jacket pocket and found the half dozen firecrackers I had left in there a few nights earlier.
Jeff Knows How to Handle Things Like This
My girlfriend and I were flying back from China to the United States. When we got back, we were one gate away passing through customs. A Vietnamese lady in front of us put her luggage through the X-ray machine. All I could hear was the security guard going, “Oh my God,” and then they opened her luggage and took out a giant fermented fish that smelled disgusting. I took a quick peek at what else was in that luggage. There were some strange looking fruits and noodles. Then another security guard was like, “Someone get Jeff here.”
Not What You Think It Is
A TSA agent tried to confiscate a man’s junk right in front of me. He swore there was a “small metal object” in his pants.
Thanks for Your Service, But I Have to Take This
I had a weapon magazine full of 5.56 rounds confiscated once. I’m in the military and was processing a bunch of tired squaddies, so I forgot about it.
I worked in a baggage room where bags sat idle until they were moved to the plane or another transfer point. We typically didn’t open bags unless they were leaking, vibrating or void of any information and we needed to reroute them, hoping for some form of ID inside the bag. (It’s vital you properly tag your baggage, as the airline’s tags are only held together by an adhesive strip that will detach should it get drenched, and trust me, they can get drenched.)
Anywho, we had one guy come in from Paris with only a backpack. When it got to our bag room, a large red pool of something was seeping out of the bag. Obviously, our first thought was blood, so we put on some gloves and slowly opened it up.
There were canisters of extract and syrup. Blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry — the strawberry had been badly damaged and was now leaking out of the bag and all over everything else. Dude also had a ton of whipped cream. Like, way more than anyone should ever have stuffed in this little backpack. He legit could have gotten these things from anywhere in the US but opted to jam them in a backpack and ship them across the world where one broke and definitely looked like a horror scene. We all knew better, but we were definitely waiting for there to be a head in there …
There’s also the time that for whatever reason, a 5-gallon bucket of something squishy was left on the ramp. The gate called us to come get it. It was actually bleeding and smelled like BBQ. There was a picture of a pig on the side of the bucket, and everything was in Spanish. We got a friend to translate it, and I forget what it was for, but the contents were pretty gross.
Pacific-Bound Deceased Grandparents
When my grandparents passed away, they wanted to be cremated and then have their ashes scattered into the Pacific Ocean near where they had a house. But we lived in New York. So my mom wrapped them both up, in really cheap plastic cremation urns, and put them in her carry on.
The airport scanned them, took us both aside into a separate room, swiped the boxes for explosives and tried to take them. My mom had none of that, and after yelling “You can’t confiscate my parents!”. We got to keep them and continue on our flight.
My Other Girlfriend
I was particularly anxious while going through security as well as sad that I wouldn’t be seeing my girlfriend for another long period of time. Overall, I was a little weepy.
My bag rolls through the scanner and I see the woman’s face get all concerned, and she calls over another agent to look at the screen. I’m thinking like, “Oh good, what now?”
She asks me, “Do you have a milkshake mixer in your luggage?”
I’m just taking it all in for a minute before it dawns on me. I have no idea what a milkshake mixer looks like, but I know I don’t have one. My Hitachi magic wand is in there.
At this point, I’m feeling overwhelmed by everything, and now I’m pretty embarrassed and there’s more attention on me than I care for.
So, I promptly burst into tears, sobbing, “It’s a personal product!”
A Weapon-Covered Belt Buckle
Jamaican security confiscated my belt buckle because it had two weapons molded on to it. “No weapons, models or replicas allowed.” Sorry that my belt buckle could have been used to scare or hurt someone.
Not Without My Weiner
Bought a wiener dog corkscrew for my fiancé at a gift shop the same day as my flight. Threw it in my backpack and totally forgot to put it in my checked luggage. Noticed security grabbing my bag off the belt, they pulled out the corkscrew and I gasped and said “MY WEINER DOG!!!”
I must have looked genuinely concerned about that corkscrew because two TSA guys decided it didn’t seem like much of a threat and let me keep it. Shoutout to those TSA guys for letting me bring my derpy gift home!
People Are Weird
There’s a lot of odd stuff found in checked baggage.
Commercial fireworks, the mortars that shoot up in the sky and explode. Cops were involved.
A skinned goat skull packed on top of clothing. It had obviously missed the plane, sat for a day and that was a very bad day.
Poorly sealed jars of stale blended fish — must be a delicacy somewhere.
Undeclared weapons are fairly common. They don’t necessarily pose a danger, but there’s a right and wrong way to transport them.
Pennies From Heaven
I was traveling with a buddy from Canada to France. We were big into one card game that required pennies. So, my friend, the character that he is, brought a glove full of around 1000 pennies, and without thinking, tossed it in his carry on. Every security stop we went through, he had to dump out his glove of pennies and then put them all back into the glove. The first security check we went through, him and I were both staring at the screen, wondering what the heck was in his bag. The way it was placed, it looked like an awkward metal dinosaur.
NOT a Bomb
I flew with an antique 12-inch cast-iron skillet with a lid and two antique oil lamps with iron brackets and a mercury glass reflector in my carry-on. They were family heirlooms that I very carefully and skillfully wrapped in my sweaters and a long velvet skirt and lined everything with socks and bras (yes, my packing skills are to be envied).
I had to explain to the TSA that I was not planning to use the skillet as a weapon and that the reflector was not the casing for an explosive while my bras were laying all over the table. Me yelling “be careful with that – it’s super fragile!” probably didn’t help with my not-an-explosive plea.
I worked at an airport as a line tech. A former baggage screener (pre-TSA) told me of the time he open a bag and found a human skull. The passenger was an MD and had all the appropriate paperwork to transport the skull, but it was still surreal.