It seems like the number of things you aren’t allowed to take on airplanes just keeps getting longer. No liquids, no nail clippers, nothing over 5 ounces….you get the idea. That list doesn’t even include the array of stuff they make you do when you actually walk through security. Take your shoes off, x-ray machines, full body scans – it’s no wonder it takes so long to go through airport security.
With all the intense precautions airports take, it’s amazing the number of bizarre things that get discovered through the airport security process. In fact, some of these stories make us think that it might be worth signing up to work for the TSA just for the stories!
No. Just kidding. Forget we said that. Read on!
41. Beware The Little Old Ones
It was pre-9/11, but I took a razor knife/utility knife though security on three different overseas trips before I was stopped with it.
I used my carryon to carry my tools with me for my job and would use it in country as it was easier than carrying all that weight.
I tossed a utility knife in there and went through security at least 6 times (probably more than that as I used to go outside if I had time at layover airports).
I was finally stopped with it by a little old lady who was scanning bags at a small airport in the Midwest.
40. A Very Close Shave With Security
A whole lot of Gillette razors.
I needed one and they only sold a 10 pack and I only had carry-on luggage. I thought worst case scenario, I have to throw them away and buy more when I get home.
They stopped me in security, opened my bag, looked at them, looked at me, and let me go with my 9 razors.
39. 12 Disciples
38. I Ham What I Ham
37. Screw It
36. Always Check Your Bags
35. It’s Not Poison
Bottle of water. I took it past the initial one, the second one stopped me.
The security guy asked me to drink the water. So I gulped down 2 gulps of water and told him “See, not poison”.
5 seconds of awkward silence
He then said, “You can’t bring the water in”. Only then did I realize my mistake.
34. The Sly Smuggler
This was back in the days when people shot movies using actual film. I would open the tiny metal film cases with a bottle opener, ditch the film then put whatever I wanted inside and seal the bottom back on.
The x-rays can’t see through the metal, so security just assumes a film can has film in it. I smuggled all kinds of stuff domestically and internationally that way.
Then film became more and more rare, and I felt more conspicuous traveling with it. Plus I grew up and realized how much trouble I’d be in if I got caught!
33. Those Were The Days
Pre-9/11, I was actually able to board a plane with a chainsaw. It was still new in the box so there was no mistaking what it actually was.
Would have made for a loud and messy hijacking.
32. How Does This Happen?
My aunt got two machetes through the airport of JFK. She just wrapped it in newspapers and stuck them in the dirty wet clothes bag.
Even going through them by hand no one found them.
31. Let It Grow
Seeds (international travel to the US). I had a full bag of seeds from another trip I made a week before and forgot to take it out of my bag.
I felt like Bart Simpson when he took a frog to Australia, totally paranoid when I found them!
30. Watch That Protractor
I accidentally brought a 6-inch buck knife in my carry-on.
Bag was x-rayed, then randomly selected for a manual search. I realized it was there when I pulled out my crossword book mid-flight. This was in 2011.
Great job, Air Canada! They did confiscate my protractor set, because apparently the pointy end on the compass could be a dangerous weapon.
29. Good To Know
I got myself through Charles De Gaulle airport and right up to getting on the plane without a boarding pass.
The scary thing is that it was the day after the Paris shootings last November, and security was supposed to be heightened. How I got that far I don’t know.
28. Way To Go
A full dissection set, with scalpels and blades and deadly stuff like that. Way to go, Barcelona airport!
27. That Lotion Might Be Dangerous
They confiscated my lotion, but neglected to detect the dense long metal self-defense baton I had attached to my key ring.
26. Good Looking Out
I had a credit-card shaped knife that folded into something wieldable. It was more of a gimmick than anything, but one time I got it through airport security solely because I forgot it was in my wallet.
On the other hand, I went for federal jury duty, and apparently the X-ray people there pay far more attention than the TSA. I got some odd looks when they asked me about that.
25. Watch Out For Gardeners
A bag with several boxcutters and penknives that were given away at a gardening trade show I attended. I imagine the fertilizer sample packs were probably a no-no also.
24. Give Me All The Bacon You Have
I once brought bacon back to Canada from Germany. It was the really salty Black Forest stuff that was fine if it wasn’t refrigerated.
This was around when Mad Cow was all the rage and meat imports were extremely regulated.
23. Forget The Knife, Get The Sunscreen
I was flying from Guatemala to Texas and then again to Philadelphia.
I was working on a construction project so I was using a knife and usually had it on me. Going through security in Guatemala they stopped my bag and I thought “oh no, my knife must be in my bag”!
They then proceed to pull out my can of spray sunscreen and throw it in the trash. Once I was on the plane I reached into my bag to pull out a game boy and cut myself on all 3 of the extra razor blades in my bag.
And the knife was in there too.
22. That’s Some Magic Trick
A baby bunny. I used to fly home every couple of weekends in the early 90’s when I was in university.
I figured they never patted me down so just put it in my inside coat pocket. I almost got busted in security when they asked me to take off my jacket after I walked though the metal detector.
My coat moved a bit on the table but they never noticed. Once on the plane, I got busted by a stewardess when I brought the bunny out for a bit.
She asked if she could pet it. Flying was a lot more fun back then.
21. He Had A Bag Over It
2 knives and a fake samurai sword sticking out of my bag.
This was pre 9/11. To be fair, I had a plastic bag over the handle of the sword.
20. Poor Sushi
I smuggled my goldfish in a plastic baggy full of water through, tucked into my sports bra.
I made it through fine. I was young and stupid, and poor Sushi passed away after that whole ordeal anyway.
19. To The Moon
Not me, but a friend once brought rocket fuel through TSA.
We were traveling for a model rocket competition. Somehow, a rocket motor got into her pocket on launch day and she forgot about it. She wore the same pants for the flight home, and I guess she didn’t notice she still had the motor in her pocket.
18. Got The Pen Though
A box cutter and an Exacto knife. The kicker is I was stopped at security because I had a fountain pen.
17. That Might Work
Full stainless steel water bottle.
Kept taking an empty one through till I decided to try not emptying it. No issues on the last handful of flights. Might try filling it with whiskey next time.
So I guess not really accidental.
16. Don’t See The Forest For The Trees
6-inch survival knife in my backpack. I forgot to take it out from my last trip. They found my nail clippers and toothpaste but not this dangerous knife!
15. The last Samurai
About a week before 9/11/2001, I was going through airport security alongside a 14-year-old kid and his mother, who were returning from some kind of martial arts tournament. The kid was carrying a freaking samurai sword.
The kid was carrying a freaking samurai sword.
The security guy was all like, “I’m pretty sure you have to check that”. and the mom flat out told him they are not going to check it because it’s too expensive, and that the lady at the ticket counter said it should be okay because it’s a practice sword and not even sharpened.
The security guy just isn’t sure and so the kid draws the sword from the sheath and lets the man feel the edge. Meanwhile the mom reiterates that the ticket lady said it would be okay.
Security guy shrugs, kid re-sheaths his sword, and that thing rode in the overhead bin across the aisle from me (they were on my plane).
Two weeks later they would have been detained without a second thought.
14. Gotta Watch Those Lego Swords
Got through with a pair of handcuffs that I found at a yard sale, but I got a weird look from TSA.
My nephew’s foam sword from Legoland was apparently too big a threat to let on the plane, though.
13. Just Make Your Own
I brought 16 oz of chimichurri from Argentina to the US.
Technically it’s a liquid. Worst part of it is the chimi was awful, so not even worth it.
12. Hidden In Plain Sight
An Exacto pen/blade. I kept it in a pen case with all my other writing/drawing stuff.
Didn’t realize it until I was looking for a pen and saw it in there.
11. He’s Just Testing You
I always take a small pair of spring-loaded, rubber-gripped needle nose pliers on every plane trip in my carry on.
4.5 inches long. 1-inch jaw length. Easy to grip. Would make a great weapon. At least 40 times now – before and after 9/11. Only been questioned once – on a flight out of Germany back to the states.
They measured the jaws and gave it back to me.
I don’t expect to ever use it as a weapon. I mostly take it along just to see if they’ll notice – while they take nail clippers from old ladies.
10. Watch Those Spicy Liquids
I managed to bring a canister of pepper spray onto several different airplanes in the same carry-on bag for two different trips. I didn’t realize I had it until a few weeks after my latest adventure.
9. Those Are Expensive Eggs
This wasn’t at an airport, but the border. My mom brought two 12-packs of Kinder Eggs from Mexico for my nephew. She didn’t know they were illegal and it wasn’t until later that I found out we could have been fined about $2,000 per egg.
She hasn’t brought back any since.
8. Getting Hammered
Not an airport, but a cruise line. There were 4 of us going on a cruise and we spent extra time beforehand preparing legit looking soda bottles that were strongly mixed.
We were so worried about the “soda” passing through the bag check that my friend somehow completely forgot about the massive hammer he had in his bag.
They never found the hammer. I’m still not sure that x-ray machine was legit because there is no reason for a person on a cruise ship to have a massive hammer.
7. A Massive Oversight
A large amount of fireworks. We were traveling to Ireland. We had already been through customs in Colorado, connected in DC, went through security in London and then were waiting in the lounge to get on our plane to Ireland.
My brother looks in his backpack for a snack, and then turns ghost white and looks at me. He calls me over, and shows me his backpack.
He has probably 3 pounds of high-end fireworks– not sparklers, but stuff that goes boom. We got through two security checkpoints with about 3 pounds of black powder.
They did catch my drink in my backpack though, so we were safe.
6. Granny will stick you
My grandmother emigrated to Spain and we were helping her move her stuff to the new place. She was 92 at the time, tiny, wrinkled, and a very neat and civilized person.
She was 92 at the time, tiny, wrinkled, and a very neat and civilized person.
At the airport, security checked her bag. They checked it again, called some more security guys, and pointed. Then they asked if she had anything in her bag that was illegal.
Then they asked if she had anything in her bag that was illegal.
My grandmother said no; they asked if they could search it.
They couldn’t find anything at first so they asked her again if she had a knife or something like that in the bag. Granny thought for a while and then she suddenly remembered.
She unzipped a hidden pocket and pulled out a switchblade that she had forgotten about.
Apparently she used to carry a knife when she went to the market with her friends and wanted to get a bit of food that she needed to carve up.
Or she used it to rumble with rival grandma gangs, who knows?
5. A Bit Kinky
An entire suitcase full of rope, whips and other equipment. Like no questions asked.
4. A Few Knifes
February 2002, Boston Logan flight to the Caribbean: 3 box cutters in my backpack & 2 in my coat pockets (what? I worked in a grocery store). On the way back, I packed 4 of them in my checked luggage and left one sacrificial box cutter in the same place in my backpack, but I made it home with all 5.
3. The good boy almost got you in deep trouble
I was at the airport one day, waiting for my girlfriend to come pick me after my flight. She was about 20 minutes away, so I sat down by a window ledge to browse online, and like normal there were various airport employees, security people, passengers, etc. wandering around.
After about 5 mins, I notice a couple cops with a dog eyeing me up. They go to walk by, and all of a sudden the dog gets really close to me and then sit down. The cops give me an intense look, and reach under the ledge where I was sitting.
The cops give me an intense look, and reach under the ledge where I was sitting.
All of a sudden, they pull out a bag with a few grams of green in it. This is not my stuff, and I start freaking out internally, like any normal person. One of the cops goes, “What’s this all about”?
This is not my stuff, and I start freaking out internally, like any normal person. One of the cops goes, “What’s this all about”?
Then, the other cop bursts out laughing, and explains that they are doing K9 training and I happened to sit down right over the exact spot they had previously hidden the bag for the dog to find. The cops were laughing so hard they had to take a couple minute break from their training, and, after my blood pressure kinda returned to normal I thought it was pretty funny too.
The cops were laughing so hard they had to take a couple minute break from their training, and, after my blood pressure kinda returned to normal I thought it was pretty funny too.
2. Ready For Action
Fullblown ammunition. In jacket pocket. Went thru xray too. Auckland, NZ, post 9/11
My passport was expired, I didn’t notice and neither did he!