The insane things people still try to bring on airplanes

John and Chris have done a lot of reporting on the TSA this year, as the organization has had its fair share of privacy invasions, cultural faux paus, and instances of general incompetence.

But, in spite of their widely-publicized errors, the TSA has quietly put together something hilarious, sad and surprisingly informative all at the same time. That’s right: the TSA is developing a social media presence.

The organization has been blogging since 2008, but just recently launched an Instagram account featuring selected confiscated items (also shown on the blog) which serve as examples of what you should know better than to bring on an airplane.



You can also check out their Twitter feed here. But they are not on Facebook…yet.

The TSA’s social media team also puts out helpful posts that address frequently asked questions, or frequently occurring violations, along with a weekly breakdown of the number and type of guns confiscated, and how many of said guns were loaded/had a bullet in the chamber. (If you’ve ever wondered about the rules governing flying with car parts, you can find out more here).

Some posts bridge the gap between informative and absurd. For instance, this advisory has appeared in multiple posts:

We continue to find inert hand grenades and other weaponry on a weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a realistic bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited – real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays in checkpoint screening. I know they are cool novelty items, but you cannot bring them on a plane. Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.


And everyone should read the TSA’s post summarizing the most notable confiscations of 2012. Here’s the link.

My guess is that this inert claymore mine makes the 2013 list:

SJC Incident 06-13-13 Photo 2

Whoever brought this should have checked their “MyTSA” app

It’s hard to tell if people are forgetting to take their guns out of their bags during the packing process, or if they think that the big “No Firearms” sign simply doesn’t apply to them. Maybe some people really are so insecure as to need to bring their gun into one of the safest situations one can put themselves in: an airplane.

In any case, for all of the TSA’s faults, it’s good to know that they do, on occasion, do their job and keep things like this out of the air:

STUN GUNS Presentation1.bmp

A pair of stun guns, one disguised as a pack of cigarettes.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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8 Responses to “The insane things people still try to bring on airplanes”

  1. Tom Butler says:

    I really wonder how many of the firearms belong to LEO’s or retired LEO’s that carry every day and just forgot that they aren’t special when flying.

  2. ArthurH says:

    You put the rubber cement in the barf bag and huff it. Gives you something to do while you’re stuck on the tarmac waiting to take off or get a slot to depart from the plane. ;>P

  3. fletcher says:

    I was at a convention in Orlando where a computer company handed out to its field service people a miniature screwdriver needed to replace a tiny component in its latest models. And at the airport, the screeners confiscated everyone of these tools. So now you know who to blame if you can’t get your laptop repaired quickly.

  4. Tatts says:

    A friend worked for a small airline in a major city. The TSA would turn over to them, monthly, the items confiscated from their passengers.
    The number three most common item still puzzles me: rubber cement. I know it’s confiscated because it’s flammable, what I’m trying to figure out is what so many people use rubber cement for–while flying. Are kindergarten teachers huffing in the plane’s lav? What does anyone need rubber cement for on a trip?

  5. Naja pallida says:

    My question is, how many of these things do they miss? Given that even they themselves say their thorough screenings are random. Assuming they’re only really thoroughly inspecting say, 1 in 10 people in a busy security line, and the rest just get a cursory screening… that’s a lot of people that are probably carrying things on board they shouldn’t be.

  6. Monoceros Forth says:

    One of my Latin teachers from back in the day, years before 11 September 2001 mind you, told me he once got through airport security without incident on some trip or other and then found he’d accidentally carried a few rounds of .38 Special with him and it didn’t get caught. What he was doing with a few rounds of revolver ammo in his luggage I somehow never got round to asking.

  7. Naja pallida says:

    They should add a picture of my shampoo. After all, I flew back from Dubai, through Barcelona, through Atlanta, getting security checked at each one… and then when I went back through security in Dallas, that’s when it was decided that my shampoo was threatening. That’s after already flying out through Dallas with it in the first place.

  8. BeccaM says:

    It’s probably a mix of:
    – “I forgot it was in there”
    – Not realizing something wasn’t allowed and not bothering to check
    – Knowing it wasn’t allowed, by trying to smuggle it through anyway

    It’s my suspicion that most of the confiscated guns were in the 3rd category.

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