More than 700million passengers each year file through America’s 450 airports – so it’s not surprising that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents discover the occasional ill-advised item.
And the TSA doesn’t keep what it has found quiet – it happily reveals confiscated items on its witty Instagram account. Partly for amusement, partly to school the public on banned items.
In 2018 plenty of strange objects ended up in the TSA’s clutches – and here we reveal some of the strangest.
They include a fake cartoon-style bomb that was seized at Chicago O’Hare that forced security to be closed down at the airport while explosives officers investigated.
A Freddy Krueger-style bladed glove was confiscated from a passenger at Atlanta International who tried to sneak it through to an aircraft in his carry-on bag.
And at Miami International, officers were left shocked when they discovered a snake stuffed inside a nylon stocking and placed inside an external hard drive in a checked suitcase. Scroll down, and stare in wonder…
Even though this bomb is clearly fake, the X-ray image of it when it passed through security looked real. And as agents cannot just take the traveller’s word that the item is not real it has to be checked by explosives experts. When this item was discovered at Chicago O’Hare Airport, security had to be closed for 19 minutes while the Chicago Police Bomb Squad investigated
These dapper inert grenades were wedding gifts for groomsmen. They were discovered by the TSA in a checked bag at Newark Liberty International Airport. The TSA wrote: ‘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’
TSA officers at Atlanta International confiscated what looked like a replica of Freddy Krueger’s glove from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. A passenger had tried to take the bladed item through security in his carry-on bag
This inert mortar round was found inside a passenger’s checked bag at Evansville Regional Airport in Indiana. TSA officers immediately spotted the ordnance and warned that trying to travel with these types of items can lead to hefty fines and arrest
It was almost a case of snakes on a plane when one passenger at Miami International tried to smuggle one of the creatures on to a flight to Barbados. The reptile had been placed inside a nylon stocking and put inside an external hard drive packed in a checked bag (the rear of the drive is pictured right). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was called and took possession of the snake
Officers were stunned when they noticed a cat-like figure in a piece of carry-on luggage at Erie International Airport in Pennsylvania. On closer inspection, they discovered that it was an actual real live cat, called Slim, packed into the case and surrounded by clothes. The cat was seized from the owners and placed into the care of the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Banned twice over – a knife found in carry-on luggage that’s part of a fake gun, which alone would mean it’s prohibited. It was quickly removed from a passenger trying to board a flight at Denver International Airport
When officers at Des Moines International Airport seized this from carry-on luggage they thought they’d confiscated a real gun. It turned out that it was actually a speaker with an in-built FM radio. However, the item was still confiscated as replica guns are not permitted in carry-on luggage
A traveller tried to smuggle a pair of day-glo nunchucks through security in their carry-on bag at San Antonio International Airport. TSA said they are illegal in some parts of the country, so passengers should check local laws before even packing them in checked bags
Officers at Cleveland Hopkins International thought they had no reason to suspect a passenger who turned up with a walking cane with a dog on the top, left. But when they scanned it, it turned out it had a sword inside. Pictured right is a stun gun disguised as a phone that was seized by the TSA at Baltimore-Washington International. Stun guns are not allowed to be brought onto a plane in carry-on items. They must be packed in checked baggage
This item was discovered by an X-ray machine operator at Newark Airport because it resembled an IED (improvised explosive device). Ironically it belonged to a passenger who was travelling to Florida to participate in a training event focused on X-ray detection of explosive devices. Although it was inert, passengers had to be evacuated and the bomb squad called to inspect the device. The passenger was later arrested by Port Authority police
This vibrant pink three-million-volt lipstick stun gun was discovered in a carry-on bag at the San Diego International Airport. Stun guns can only be packed in checked luggage
TSA officers at Denver International Airport confiscated this bright pink grenade toy in the shape of a dinosaur. It might just be a toy but anything that resembles a grenade is not permitted in either carry-on or checked luggage
An axe adorned with skulls, pictured left, had to be confiscated from a passenger at Chicago O’Hare airport. Axes and hatchets can only travel in checked luggage. Pictured right are whisky cooling stones in the shape of bullets, which were found in carry-on luggage by officers at Lewiston–Nez Perce County Airport in Idaho. Replica ammunition is not permitted in an aircraft cabin
The batarang was Batman’s weapon of choice but TSA officers aren’t fans of people packing them in their hand luggage. One passenger at Baltimore Washington International Airport had this replica seized at security. The TSA advises: ‘If you’re traveling with your batarang, be sure to pack it in your checked bat-bag’
One traveller at Sacramento International Airport tried to smuggle an inert mortar into their checked baggage on a trip to Las Vegas. Even though it contains no explosives, it is still banned under TSA rules and explosives experts have to be called every time
Scissors that are allowed to be carried through airport security must be smaller than four inches from the fulcrum. So there was no way that these ribbon-cutting scissors were going to make it through Nashville International