Airport Security Share The Weirdest Thing They’ve Found In Someone’s Luggage
Airport security is a necessary hassle. You have to take off your shoes, pile your luggage and coats on the conveyor belt, and get yourself patted down and electronically scanned over and over again. It’s easy to see the airport security workers as the bad guys, but the security workers who are carefully watching the luggage scans don’t have it so easy.
Not only do they have to deal with cranky passengers, but they also have to make sure that nothing dangerous or illegal is making it into the airport. They see some pretty weird stuff on the daily. Between illegal weapons and hidden sandwiches to dead animals and smelly substances, the life of a TSA officer is never easy… but at least it’s sometimes hilarious.
#1 They Might Get Hungry
I once found half of a suitcase filled with ears of fresh corn and half-frozen bratwurst. I guess they were having some sort of family picnic in the south. Unfortunately for the guy, I had to confiscate the entire suitcase. Though the guy was visibly disappointed, he cooperated. He didn’t want any trouble. I somewhat felt bad, but rules are rules!
#2 Why Would A Drug Dealer Carry Ones?
In college, many years ago, I had a part-time job demonstrating a dollar counting machine (they were relatively new then). I had to fly somewhere to give a demonstration and I took a duffle bag full of $1 bills with me. The guy searching that bag called for his boss to come over. The boss was experienced enough to figure out that real dealers don’t traffic in low-value currency. He essentially kept me from being arrested.
#3 Those Metal Dinosaurs Will Get You
I was traveling with a buddy from Canada to France. We were big into one card game that required pennies. So my friend, being the character that he is, brought a glove full of around 1,000 pennies, and without thinking, tossed it in his carry on. At 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, he 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.
#4 Different Kind Of Dangerous
My child once packed a Ziplock bag full of sand in her suitcase. Turns out, on an X-ray, it looks like a bomb. Also, her sand was full of rotten seaweed and little dead sea creatures. Opening that bag was like the bog of eternal stench. We hauled that darn bag through three airports, and then I made her throw it away.
#5 Maybe I Should Fly With A Chicken
I found a taxidermy chicken on a trip and I had to buy it. Then, I had to get her home. Well, she wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, so I had to carry her in my arms. It was a really busy travel day, and the chicken amused EVERYONE. Absolutely every person in line suddenly wasn’t grumpy anymore. TSA all laughed, especially when she had to go through the X-ray. Passengers who were irritated in the lines started smiling. I loved it. I would travel with that chicken again.
#6 Get Upset, You Get To Keep It
I bought a wiener dog corkscrew for my fiancé at a gift shop on the same day as my flight. I threw it in my backpack and totally forgot to put it in my checked luggage. I noticed security grabbing my bag off the belt—they pulled out the corkscrew and I gasped, saying, “MY WIENER 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!
#7 Things Look Weird
I worked TSA and one thing that stood out to me was a hookah pipe. It looked like an octopus. Also, some lady put her dog through the machine. It looked like a turkey.
#8 Squishy, Smelly, Sticky
I worked in a baggage room where bags sat idle until they were run 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. 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 leaking out of the bag.
Obviously, our first thought was blood, so we put on some gloves and slowly opened the bag. There were canisters of extract and syrup in the bag. Blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry. The strawberry had been badly damaged and was now leaking out of the bag, all over everything else. The dude also had a ton of whipped cream… like, way more than anyone should ever have stuffed in a little backpack. He legit could have gotten those jams from anywhere in the US but opted to stuff them in a backpack and ship them across the world instead.
#9 What Are These People Thinking?
A live spider. A passenger didn’t know, and when he opened his bag, it crawled out. I screamed at the top of my lungs. Human ashes, homemade adult toys, a live cat, antlers with rotting flesh still on them… My favorite was probably a magicians bag. It was alerted for explosives. He kept showing me bits of his act, so at least it was entertaining.
#10 I Guess Farmers Need Chainsaws
My parents own a small agriculture business in Peru and travel there multiple times per year carrying different types of equipment in their luggage. One time, they went and my sister went a week after them. My parents wanted her to carry around a chainsaw from Toronto to Peru. Apparently, she got through fine in Toronto but once she got to Peru, they started interrogating her and wanted her to pay a huge fine. It was only when she started crying that they felt bad and just let her go.
#11 He Was Totally Messing With You
Did you know that there’s a sports drink that comes in a bottle shaped exactly like an M2 grenade? I didn’t until I was working an x-ray machine in a military airport and some guy decided it would be a good idea to put a bottle in his checked bag. We had to ask him about it, but seeing as it was harmless, we eventually let him go.
#12 Is A Duck That Calming?
#13 Did They Let Her Keep It?
My grandmother emigrated to Spain and we were helping her move her stuff to the new place. My grandmother was 92 at the time. Security checked her bag, then checked it again, then called some more security guys to ask her if she had anything in her bag that was illegal. My grandmother said no, and 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. My granny thought for a while and then she suddenly remembered. They unzipped a hidden pocket and pulled out a 15 cm switchblade that she forgot 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.
#14 That Would Smell So Bad
There’s a lot of odd stuff found in checked baggage. One time, TSA found commercial fireworks; the mortars that shoot up in the sky and explode. Cops were involved. Another time, it was 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. There have been poorly sealed jars of rotting blended fish, undeclared firearms, all sorts of things.
#15 Of Course, Your Underwear Was Everywhere
I flew with an antique 12-inch cast-iron skillet with a lid and two oil lamps with iron brackets in my carry-on. They were family heirlooms that I very carefully and skillfully wrapped in my sweaters and lined 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 a bomb 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-a-bomb plea.
#16 Did They Keep Your Spices?
I was taking a pressure cooker and some spices to my sister that she left behind when moving out of state. In the interest of saving space in my luggage, I put the spices (the kind in glass jars with metal lids) inside the pressure cooker. I’d also found a pair of earbuds that belonged to her and chucked them in with the spices for an easy to hand-off package. I was not surprised to find TSA’s note. I was a little put out that they confiscated my deodorant which had been in a sealed plastic bag with other hygiene supplies that were completely separated from the pressure cooker.
#17 They Sound Like Bullies
I once was traveling for business and I brought all my GameBoy games with me. It was two Ziplock bags filled with games and three portable systems. I checked in my luggage bag so the only thing in my carry-on was tons of video games and systems. TSA stopped and looked through it, then brought over some other people to laugh at the guy traveling with nothing but 200 video games.
#18 All The Food
I live in West Africa. Whenever we go on vacation or back home, we like to bring back food items you cannot get here. I’m sure someone got a kick out of the turkeys and hams people were bringing back for the holidays.
A friend of mine flew from Seattle to California. When he got to California, he stuck his hand in his coat pocket and realized he had a box or two of loose .22 shells in there. He had put the coat through the X-ray and they never even noticed. Sometimes, it scares me how easily things can slip through airport security.
#20 At Least He Had Paperwork?
I worked at an airport as a line tech. A former baggage screener (pre-TSA) told me of the time he opened 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. He was heading to a conference to speak about skeletal diseases. Pretty cool.
#21 Could You Take A Live One?
I was “that” passenger once. I had a whole dead carp in my backpack. I was visiting my grandparents in the Czech Republic right before returning to spend Christmas with my parents in France. Carp is a traditional Christmas dinner in the Czech Republic but it’s pretty hard to get in France since French people don’t eat them, so I figured, hey, I might as well buy one and take it with me. The lady who checked my bag was not impressed, but she let me go through with my carp. I guess there are no rules against taking an entire carp with you on a plane.
#22 Interesting Way To Try And Hide It
My friend’s dad told me about a woman who tried to take a whole cooked chicken through the scanner in her hoody pocket. She tried to play it off that she was pregnant, but was clocked on the X-ray. She then tried to eat it as fast as possible, whilst it was covered in hoody fluff. She could have taken it through as well if she’d just put it through with her luggage!
#23 Lucky Agent
#24 There’s A Clear Theme
I work for an airline and got called to a secondary baggage screening today because someone on one of our flights checked a bag with a dozen different kinds of knives, including hunting knives, a butterfly knife, and a few punch knives. Also, he had two airsoft guns, handcuffs, a whole bunch of The Walking Dead books, and an Xbox with a bunch of post-apocalyptic games like Fallout 4 and Left for Dead. It looked like he was unironically prepping for a zombie apocalypse. The X-ray lit up like a Christmas tree.
#25 Sharp Objects
About ten years ago, I flew to Mississippi from Logan airport (Boston). I didn’t have luggage, so my ex’s dad let me borrow his gym bag (I was only going for the weekend). When I arrived in Mississippi and got to my hotel room, I began to unpack my bag. To my surprise, there was a giant box cutter in the inner pocket of the duffle bag.
#20 Were They Purposefully Transporting Bugs?
When I worked at a small regional airport, Southwest Airlines were running a promotion: $39.00 from BWI Baltimore Washington. Anyway, I got called over for a suspicious bag. I still remember it being a red-and-black check plaid with leather corners. It had no ID tag so we decided to open it to see if anything in it could be used to get an ID.
Well, I put on some latex gloves and proceeded to open the bag. About six cockroaches ran out, and two up my arm. As I continued to open the bag, I discovered a small electric hot plate, a beat-up saucepot and like two pounds of used coffee grounds sprinkled over everything, and about 50 more cockroaches. Real hobo starter kit. Pretty odd stuff.
#27 Why Didn’t She Just Put Them In Her Bag?
A lady had McGriddles tucked into each armpit. They both fell when she was asked to raise her arms for the scanner. She thought the food wasn’t allowed through, so she was going to smuggle them… in her armpits!! I asked a lady if she had anything left in her pockets. She proceeded to reach into her shirt, down into her bra, to pull out a set of teeth, which she then popped into her face!! Not necessarily weird, but definitely interesting. There was a Halloween convention in town, and there were a lot of prop companies coming through. This one lady had fake body parts. Brain, eyes, fingers, toes, intestines, a heart. Some of it looked very realistic (specifically the details on the fingers, toes, and eyes).
#28 Wait, You Can’t Fly With Dumbbells?
Dumbbells. Two, 20 kg dumbbells. They couldn’t be identified through an X-ray, so they were pulled for search. Was dumb-founded. He thought there was no problem with that above people’s heads on a plane that bounces around…
#29 Weird That They’d Care About That
When I was a kid, I liked to play games on my laptop. I didn’t have a desk, so I took a flat plywood board and taped a mousepad to it. TSA ALWAYS asked about it. It was mostly just like, “Kid….what is this?” I’d tell them it was for gaming and they’d stare at it and go, “OH, okay, I get it.” It happened every time I traveled.
#30 What Do You Do With That Stuff?
Deer head. The hunter wanted to carry it on the plane, but the box was leaking. The airline said no, so the hunter left it behind. The airline had to find someone to destroy it.
#32 They Don’t Have Typewriters Listed On The Signs
I took a “portable” ’40s typewriter in my carry on bag. It was from Portugal and I wanted to decorate my new place with it in the US. They asked me if I had a laptop and I said no… You should have seen their faces when they saw the typewriter. Turns out, you need to take out the typewriter just like you would with the laptop.
#32 It All Makes Sense Now
When I was in college and would come home to visit for the holidays, my mom would always pack my bag full of food. This always included a hunk of cheese, at least one pound. I would invariably get pulled aside, patted down, and asked what was in my bag. It always ended in cute conversations with the agents about “mothers will be mothers” and such.
And then one day, the TSA agent goes, “Oh, that’s probably because that five-pound cylindrical log of cheese looks EXACTLY like a log of C4!” And then I realized that for a good two years I’ve been getting pulled out because TSA thought I was trying to carry logs and bricks and pounds of C4 onto planes. I was so confused why my TSA pre-check got revoked.
#33 How Many People Are Flying With Food?
My family took a small, wheeled, carry-on suitcase entirely full of frozen sausage across the country for a wedding. We were worried it would thaw and smell or that security would be like, “What the heck is in this suitcase,” but no one cared. We got away with it scot-free and our food contribution to the wedding was a hit.
#34 No One Was Happy
I was flying from Tokyo to Atlanta. I saw a US army officer almost tackled because he had a Ka-Bar (large knife) on his hip. I suppose the Japanese security let him keep it because he was military. The US security was not happy about it though. This was pretty soon after 9/11 too, so tensions were pretty high.
#35 Wrong Door, Wrong Time
A Saudi young man pushed through the wrong door and sounded an alarm that generated a police response. After the police and airport operations talked to the guy, I went up to him, introduced myself and simply asked, “What happened?” The guy launched into a story about how he was buying cigarettes at the airport gas station when a driver came up and propositioned him to put some items into his checked baggage and transport them to a member of the royal family back in Saudi.
I asked him if he knew what the items were and he said no. I informed the airline of what the guy said and the police suddenly become interested again. They ordered the bags to be removed from the aircraft. Turns out, he was transporting a bunch of boxes of powdered baby milk. I got the contact information for the driver who propositioned the guy.
I interviewed him and found out he ran a business of taxiing Saudi students to the airport. He also had a side business where Saudi royals would text him pictures and links of items you can buy in the US and he would buy them, propositioning young Saudis to put the items in their checked bags and have them bring the items to the royals.
The guy was using young Saudis traveling back home as free shipping for items you couldn’t buy back in Saudi. He showed me the texts and it was mainly pictures of liquor and perfumes, but this particular day, a Saudi royal wanted specific powdered milk for her newborn. Since he didn’t have any taxi clients, he just waited at the gas station until he found someone who looked like a Saudi going back home.
He gave me a ton of documents I didn’t even request, including W-2’s. No clue what happened to him. Ultimately, he did not violate anything within my jurisdiction. Maybe some other agency picked up my report, who knows. But it was definitely a wild ride, and luckily ultimately harmless. The police didn’t uncover his story, so who knows what they actually asked him. Probably just assumed he didn’t speak English and went through the wrong door.
#36 I Bet TSA Laughed Every Time
I am the daughter of a man who travels for work. As a child, my dad was selling a medical instrument that was prostate-related. I was around eight or nine so I don’t exactly understand what the equipment did, but I know it addressed concerns relating to butts. My dad had fake butts mounted on wood to demonstrate how to use the equipment. He would travel with the fake butts to pitch the instrument and show doctors how to use it. He would travel regularly with MULTIPLE FAKE MOUNTED BUTTS. I’m not sure how often he was stopped but I know he was relieved when he got a promotion and didn’t have to travel with the butts anymore.
#37 No Rocks For You
I was six, coming home with my family from a vacay in Texas. I had a small pink Kim Possible bag that was put through the X-ray twice for being suspicious. I had found a bunch of cool rocks while visiting relatives and wanted to take them home. I thought they were about to take my rocks away, but they told me to grab my bag. Knowing me, I probably also cried because I was scared I was in trouble.
#38 Trying To Be Sneaky
The Australian Border Security show is always amusing. Asians are always trying to bring in food or traditional medicine through luggage. “Sir do you have any foodstuff or organic materials in here?” “No nothing of the sort just clothes like I’ve declared on the form” Opens suitcase to reveal half dozen turtle eggs, a mummified spider monkey and a bag of beetle husks. “No speak English.”
#39 TSA Book Club
Not a weird thing I found, but I went through once and got flagged because my book set off the X-ray. It was a copy of infinite jest and this made everyone in security chuckle. Either a bigger problem than I expected or I found the book club of TSA.
#40 You Could Probably Hurt Someone With That
My father travels a lot and was going through airport security one day in Europe when he noticed his bag was taking longer than usual to go through the X-ray. The security guy called over another guy, and then another. They were all looking at the bag, gesturing and pointing. A guy finally came over to my father and asked, “Are you a mountain climber? We can’t figure out what is in your bag and climbing equipment is our best guess. You have some sort of metal hook in there.”
My father was absolutely not a mountain climber and happily opened his bag for them. He had bought a metal crane truck as a toy for my brother, and it looked strange on the machine. They all started cracking up and asked if they could use the photo of the bag as training. It must have been a slow night. My dad was sweating like crazy the entire time.
#41 Could Have Been A Real Bunny
I was flying from Boston to Dallas. I got pulled over by the TSA. He said something looked odd, so he told me to step over to another area where another guy searched my bag. Sure, no problem. He opened my bag and pulled out a giant solid chocolate bunny…he picked it up and yelled at the guy operating the machine: “Chocolate bunny.”
#42 Everyone Has Their Thing
This 20-year-old guy came through acting weird. I went through his luggage. It was full of 20+ stuffed animals, OF THE SAME KIND. Stuff meant for five-year-olds. He had a whole large suitcase full of them, one on his keychain, and more in a small bag. His actual clothes were stuffed in the bottom of his backpack or something. There were no substances in them, the just apparently just sleeps with them in his bed. Weird.
#43 Thanks For Your Understanding
I lived in the UK but have family in Germany, so I flew quite regularly. Once, I just had my suitcase filled with two things, first around six bags of crisps my mom loves and something I built myself, a brake for my longboard. So loads of wires and stuff surrounded by seemingly air-filled bags of crisps… I didn’t think about it when I packed but I get why I was pulled out for it.
#44 How Did That Fit In A Suitcase?
Two cooker stoves.
#45 Nice Try?
While working in Anchorage, AK, I had $1,000,000 in cash locked in a chrome suitcase that popped open in the luggage carousel. The money was payroll for miners in Russia and the owner checked it so he wouldn’t be suspected of carrying cash. It was all wrapped up in plastics and banded. US customs let it go through after a short investigation.