The holiday travel season is heating up. An Orbit survey found that 71% of adults say they plan to travel this Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s, with 66% getting to their final destination by plane. However, most travelers aren’t exactly looking forward to their flights. The survey discovered that 33% of people said they were dreading long lines at the airport this year, up from 14% in 2014.
While signing up for TSA Precheck or springing for a first-class seat can make moving through the security line less painful, neither will let you totally avoid the cluelessness or stupidity of your fellow travelers. Every day, passengers show up at security checkpoints with banned stuff in their luggage, and when the TSA finds someone carrying a weapon or other forbidden item, it can hold up the line for all travelers while they sort out the issue. Occasionally, it even leads to airport evacuations. (Though not often enough, apparently. An investigation this summer found that the TSA failed to detect weapons in 95% of cases.)
One bright spot in this travel-related mess is the TSA Instagram account, where the protectors of our nation’s airports share pictures of some of the items they’ve confiscated from passengers. Most are mundane, if not a bit alarming. (Many people still haven’t realized that you can’t pack your gun in your carry-on, apparently.) A few, however, are downright bizarre. Here are nine weird things that people have tried to bring through airport security.
1. These dangerously creative wedding favors
A bride and groom whose first names both started with “T” created these “TNT” wedding favors (actually bottles filled with bath salts) for their guests to bring home. Unfortunately, the gifts looked a little too much like the real thing on the TSA’s X-ray machines, leading to an evacuation of the Denver airport in September 2015.
2. A “magic” book
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:38pm PST
In April 2014, TSA officers in Phoenix seized this “magic” book from a passenger, which had pages that appeared to be on fire when opened (as shown in this video). It’s a fairly harmless trick, but it raised alarm bells with security personnel, who weren’t so worried about the possibility of fire in the cabin as they were concerned that the book’s insides resembled a bomb.
3. This novelty grenade
A quick look at this desk accessory makes it pretty clear that it’s not an actual explosive. Nonetheless, all grenades, both real and fake, are prohibited in both carry-on and checked baggage. That doesn’t stop people from trying to bring them on airplanes though — grenades are a commonly seized item, at least based on the TSA Instagram account.
4. A meat slicer
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on Aug 14, 2015 at 5:04pm PDT
We get it. A good sandwich can be hard to come by, especially in an airport. But no matter how much your love freshly-carved roast beef, you’re going to have to leave your meat slicer at home. A person flying through Southwest Florida International Airport earlier this year tried to get this one past security, but the TSA wasn’t having it.
5. Drugs, not so cleverly disguised
Perhaps the person who wrapped their stash in a bunch of Mary Jane candy wrappers before their flight thought they were being clever. Unfortunately for them, the TSA agents saw what was up and confiscated the contraband. While the TSA isn’t necessarily looking for passengers carrying drugs, they are obligated to take action if they find them.
6. Human skull fragments
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:11am PDT
In 2013, TSA agents at Fort Lauderdale International Airport found human skull fragments and teeth inside clay pots that two travelers were carrying. The women had brought the pots back with them from Cuba and had no idea they contained human remains, Gizmodo reported, but the discovery turned the checkpoint into a crime scene and slowed down the security screening process for other passengers.
7. An airbag
File this one under “huh?” Earlier this year, a passenger at Sacramento airport tried to bring an airbag with him on his flight. The item is specifically banned by the TSA, but people still try to sneak them on planes. Apparently, it’s because airbags are so expensive to replace after they’ve deployed, especially in Europe, according to the TSA blog. Some travelers buy replacements in the U.S., and then try to bring them on the plane rather than spending more money to ship them home.
A photo posted by TSA (@tsa) on Nov 13, 2014 at 4:56pm PST
Obviously, the person who was caught with seven small snakes hidden in his pants had not seen a certain Samuel L. Jackson movie. Using their advanced imaging technology, TSA agents in Miami discovered the animal smuggler. The man, who was also carrying three small turtles, was arrested for violating the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to import certain animals to the U.S. If you must travel with your slithery companion, he’s probably going to have to go in cargo, since airlines don’t allow serpents (even those that are properly packed) in the cabin.
9. A cannon barrel
TSA officers occasionally discover inert artillery rounds and even cannonballs in passenger luggage, but the person who tried to bring a cannon barrel with him on his flight out of Hawaii’s Kahului Airport in 2014 was apparently a first. “Our officers have discovered cannonballs in the past, but this is the first cannon I can recall,” noted the TSA employee who posted the photo.