Flying used to be glamourous. People dressed up, meals were served on china, seats were bigger, cabins more comfy. Today’s travelers are squeezed into cramped quarters, overbooked, asked to remove their shoes at security checkpoints, and in some airports, have their naked images reviewed on a full body scanner. Airport security is now the site of many strange tales.
The evolution of air travel safety has created longer lines, and shorter tempers. It has also created confusion for travelers about what they can and cannot bring aboard an airplane.
Most of us know the obvious things like weapons, tools and sharp objects. Or even the lesser unacceptable items — like sporting goods. But what’s the weirdest thing airport security has seen in someone’s bag? And what do you need to know about TSA guidelines before you pack for your next flight?
Weird Items Confiscated by Airport Security
While it may seem like common sense that none of these things are allowed on a plane, at some point in the past decade all of these items were seized by airport security somewhere in the world:
- Samurai Sword
- Dead Body
- Live Tropical Fish
- 200 Tarantulas
- Hand grenades
- Dead Snakes
- Severed Heads
- Rare Orchids
- Stun Gun
- Sedated Tiger Cub
- Leg Cast Made out of Compressed Crack Cocaine
- Human skull fragments
Every Year, Money Gets Left at the Airport
According to a new TSA study, travelers left close to a $1M in unclaimed coins and currency at U.S. airports in 2016:
“The Transportation Security Administration reported that passengers left behind more than $867,812.39 in coins and currency in the plastic bowls and bins at various U.S. airport checkpoints. That’s about $102,000 more than the amount left behind in 2015, and the more than $484,000 left behind in 2008.”
The TSA does not have any theories to share on why so many people leave money behind. But it’s probably because we’re so busy trying to put our shoes and belts back on that we forget our rings, keys, laptops and money on our way to the gate.
If you think you left something at the conveyor or in a bin, you should contact the TSA. You can find a list of contacts for every airport in the country, listed by states, on their website. When you call, you’re connected to TSA lost and found at the airport you visited. They’ll search for it, and if they find it, will help you make arrangements for its return.
The money though? That’s finders, keepers. The TSA pockets the cash it finds and puts it back into improving or expanding its own programs.
What Can I Bring On A Plane?
Before your next flight, check out the latest TSA guidelines on these common, and not-so-common, items:
Liquids: While you cannot take anything containing more than 3 fluid oz of liquid, you can purchase larger containers of liquids (such as bottled water) after you clear airport security, and board the plane with it. When in doubt remember the “3-1-1” rule: Passengers can carry liquids in three-ounce bottles or less (by volume) if these are placed in a one quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag, placed separately in a bin; one per passenger.
Tools: Large hammers, drills and crowbars are not allowed in your carry-on luggage, but can be checked. However, you can bring small hammers, wrenches and screwdrivers (7 inches long or less) in carry ons.
Guns: You can check your firearms, but gunpowder and flares are completely prohibited (in carry on and checked luggage)
Snow Globes: Snow globes are a popular souvenir, and an often-confiscated items. Keep them in your checked bags so you don’t disappoint the kids.
Electronics: CPap machines, nebulizers, video game consoles — basically any small electronic devices, should be removed from their cases when moving through security checkpoints.
Cremated Remains: They’re ok in both checked and carry on luggage. Although carrying them on requires that you follow special instructions.
Bonus Tip: Shoes off, soles down: Placing your shoes sole-side down in the bin helps with the scanning process.
Still in doubt about that pair of brass knuckles you’d like to bring to Grandma’s lake house? Check with the TSA’s website or mobile app and use the “What Can I Bring?” feature. There you can get a quick answer, and avoid embarrassment later. (Incidentally, brass knuckles are only ok in checked bags.)