Airports are truly some of the most diverse places on earth—a clashing of so many cultures it’ll give you whiplash if you’re not careful. From your fellow passengers, to the workers in the kiosks, the flight attendants and the security agents you’ll find a mishmash of people from all over the world, and the makeup of that group changes every minute as people come and go. With different cultural and language barriers it’s easy to see how misunderstandings can take place. Especially among the security agents and passengers. This can make for some very stressful and frustrating situations, especially when you throw travel and timelines into the equation.
What may seem completely normal and acceptable to you may be the complete opposite to somebody else. That can vary from etiquette and social norms to what kind of stuff you try to get on board a plane with you. Though they aren’t the only ones giving security a headache. There are some people who like to just try and break the rules for the sake of it. Or because they’re criminals, or just forgot they left that gun there. You know, the reasons vary. Here are some of the weirdest things Redditors have seen someone try to sneak through airport security.
My friend bought a nine-inch-tall metal Dalek in Thailand. It was about 5 kg and made of bolts and screws, etc.
At a transfer in India, we had to try and explain what this heavy metal thing that you can unscrew is and why we had it. After 15 minutes of people not speaking English and some terrible charades a fellow passenger explained, the security guards laughed and sent us on our way.
Kitchen sinks, engine parts, but my all time favorite was the man who came off a flight from Haiti after the earthquake with a suitcase stuffed with nothing but cash and porn. No clothes. No keepsakes. No paperwork from his homeland beyond his passport...just cash and porn.
I process military flights and you wouldn't believe the crap people try to smuggle to and from operational theaters. Smoke grenades: "I forgot I had them!" Pen flares: "But it's not prepared to fire though!" A magazine full of 5.56 rounds: "I didn't know it had to be empty!" Not to mention knives of all sizes hidden behind plates in body armor.
Top tip—you may as well clench the blade between your teeth like Rambo as it's no less-subtle in a bag—it stands out like a sore thumb.
In the defense of most squaddies, they're tired and bored so they often make mistakes.
I used to be in an LDR. The GF was way into the bondage thing, so on one flight to the US, I had leathers—wrist/ankle cuffs, thigh cuffs, and a collar with metal studs—plus a considerable amount of very sturdy rope.
I was getting my checked luggage inspected before the check-in counter—thank you, Texas—and the guy started pulling out what must have been 100 feet of thick, soft rope. He looked in further and saw lots of tackle—rings, carabiners, and the assorted leather pieces in the bottom of the bag.
He looked at me with a blank stare and said, "Have a nice time mountain climbing" and zipped everything back up and sent me on my way.
To this day, I have no idea if he was serious or not.
Once I was traveling back home from France having done a clay sculpture workshop while there, and a friend of mine had made a fairly-realistic life-sized head which she was carrying in her hand luggage. The look on the security guy's face as that image popped up on the x-ray screen was absolutely priceless…
Weirdest? A glass case of dead tarantulas. Last week an American guy tried bringing through a fully loaded Glock. He was flying out of London so I have no idea how he got it in the first place. Obviously, police were called and he was arrested. You also get people bringing through life jackets from the planes which is a serious offense for which the police get called to arrest them.
I screened a checked bag that had a full dog leather bondage suit. Freaked me the heck out!
Also one day I was doing a bag check on a strange dense metal item. It was a woman and her son, the item was some weird piece of metal. I didn't know what it was but I knew it wasn't dangerous. Anyway, she saw what it was and yelled at her son "DON'T LOOK OR YOU'LL GO BLIND" she whispered to me that it was a Kegel exerciser. I re-ran the bag through the x-ray so the operator could see what it looked like without the item in the bag and he said "what the hell was that" I told him and he had no idea what Kegels were and why someone would need to exercise them.
I gave her the bag back and tried not to die laughing because of her poor sheltered child.
My top three as a pilot. I saw a Haitian try to bring a dead rooster and other voodoo trinkets including knives in his carry on.
Also, a person put a dead dog that was badly decayed in checked luggage. I would say it was dead over a week.
Hunters ground up their deer put it in cardboard boxes, duct taped and froze it solid. They expected the mass of the frozen block to keep the meat cool and not ooze blood on to everyone else's stuff.
I flew from Atlanta to Miami a couple of years ago and realized when I was unpacking in Miami that I brought my metal grinder with me. It had ground up pot and probably 1.5g of kif in it. It was in my checked bag and not my carry on. I've flown with buds in my carry on a few times.
I accidentally brought 100+ spent shell casings from a rifle through security. I didn't want to leave empty casings laying around after shooting with some friends so I put them in a Ziploc bag and forgot about them. It was in my carry on and discovered them when I got home. This was after 9/11 so either the TSA working knew they were spent or wasn't paying attention.
I don't work at an airport but I have a story of being at an airport! I'm one of those people in the thread! It's happening!
I happened to be flying somewhere just a few days after they made the 3oz. or less rule for liquids a few years back. Everyone was kind of confused, and couldn't seem to get it right, and the TSA people were getting understandably pissed.
The people checking what was going through the machines were constantly setting off the buzzer, then would have to show passengers what they had that wasn't allowed. It was a mess, I was in security for an extra 45 minutes with people throwing away shampoo, etc. Everyone was angry at each other.
Right before I went through one of the TSA managers said: "Alright that's it!" And he stood up on a table in front of everyone, held up an entire handle of tequila and shouted, "THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU CANNOT TAKE ON BOARD. IF YOU HAVE ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THIS MUCH LIQUID IT CANNOT COME THROUGH HERE!"
The visual was what made it amazing. A middle-aged, skinny, white man holding a bottle of tequila over his head screaming at 7 in the morning at the Denver Airport. It was what America is all about.
Not an airport worker, but I'm sure if the TSA agent who inspected my lightsaber was a Redditor, they would post about it.
I'm not talking about one of those low-quality ones, I'm talking about an Ultrasaber made with aircraft grade aluminum. This thing could be used as a blunt force object and/or potentially be rigged for cowardly acts of violence. I pretty much had to disassemble the entire thing and show them there were no weird objects inside.
The crazy part? I didn't get flagged for it until like my fifth time through security.
My uncle accidentally forgot to take out a machete from a backpack. TSA pulled it out and held it out in front of him and asked: "So what's this?"
Uncle: "Oh shoot, oops...it’s okay, take it, I got several more at home."
A friend works as a flight attendant. She told me about some guy who was stopped from going on a plane because he had a suitcase full of female mannequin parts, head, body, etc. all taken apart. Apparently, security thought he was smuggling drugs, just turned out he liked mannequins.
I work in airports and I get all sorts of stuff thru security. TSA agents working the carry-on item scanner are looking for a few specific things. They'll look right past a Ziploc bag full of pot as they try and find long metal objects and containers of liquid. I've passed sizable quantities of weed through security 100+ times. It doesn't even show up on the x-ray because...
The secret is to give them lots of other things to look at. My backpack is full of miscellaneous items like AV cables, travel speakers, 2 tablets, some rocks, plastic cups, etc. All very well distributed and cluttered at the same time. They only get 2 viewing angles. The more stuff that shows up well on an x-ray the better.
Also, push the limits a little but not a lot. Five oz. plastic flasks will pass through even though the limit is 3 oz. technically, and I usually travel with 2 of them. I've been selected for additional screening several times. My trick there is to be kind of a dick to some agents and a total sweetheart to others. They’re on autopilot after an hour on the job and most people are easy to read.
You can count on this being a fact. All TSA agents are having a long, arduous day. There’s some magic about airports, that when people pass through the threshold and enter airport property, 40 IQ points come right off the top. Agents deal with foreigners and idiots all day. A joke and a smile goes a long way and earns leeway with some agents. Impatiently tapping your foot and rushing them through screening works with other agents, because they're not being paid enough to deal with how big of an asshole I will definitely become if I am further delayed.
I passed eight tubes of silicone caulking through yesterday. My bag got flagged for additional screening. Before the agent had finished with his previous bag I was all over his case.
"Ok buddy, there’s my bag I’m your next customer! I have tools you can see here (pointing at his screen, basically pushing him off of his workstation), nothing over the limit! I work in airports everyday dude I know you guys got it rough!"
Dude takes one look at me, one look back at the screen, hands me my bag without opening it. You could put enough plastic explosive in eight caulking tubes to blow up eight planes.
Maybe it helps that I'm a fat white guy with a work uniform and airline badges, but all in all screening is a charade and most items are passable.
I'm an airline pilot in Europe, had a passenger in Italy present his handgun to us on the flight deck and wanted to know what he should do with it. Turned out he was Italian police and was used to leaving it on the flight deck with Alitalia guys. Our airline did not permit firearms or ammunition anywhere on board. He either had to leave the gun or he couldn't fly, so he had to offload himself. The scary thing about it was that if he hadn't mentioned the weapon to us, no one else would have—not the security personnel or handling agent. Needless to say, reports were filed on Italian security procedures.
This opens up the possibility of any police or service personnel smuggling a gun through security for their own reasons or terrorists coercing someone to get a gun through security under duress or similar.
About three weeks ago we surprised a friend of mine for his bachelor party. We were taking him down to Phoenix for a few days. His fiancé had packed a bag for him before we left, as we abducted him from work and went to the airport from there.
We check in and get our tickets, and head to the security checkpoint. As we are waiting to go through, we ask if anyone has cards, so we can kill some time before our flight once we get through security. The bachelor checks his bag because he thinks he left some there from the last trip he took. He reaches into the side pocket and pulls out a folding knife.
Apparently, his fiancé hadn't checked the side pockets when she packed for him. At that point, we were about four people away from going through. He panicked a bit and wasn't sure what to do with it. His first thought was to leave it on the ground next to a 1/2 full can of Bud Light that was sitting there, which I am sure would have caused a ruckus.
Instead, he handed it in and lost his $15 camping knife.
So to answer your question, someone tried to slam a Bud Light before going through security, couldn't and left it next to a pillar in the airport.
I watched a man argue about a fifth of vodka for 10 minutes, chug it, then promptly have a heart attack. That was certainly weird.
In Armenia I saw a guy trying to enter the plane with his bear Caucasian shepherd, after 30 minutes of "intense negotiations"($$) with the security and the pilot, he was allowed to travel with the bear dog on the seat next to him, the dog pooped himself on the take off, spent the flight chewing on the seats and puked on the landing.
My great-aunt from Texas once flew out to Portland, OR and she brought her own bacon grease because she was going to be cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
My uncle brought this thing called a bottom buddy.
It's an extender so fat people with little arms can reach their ass to wipe.
He told the security guard that if she doesn't let him on the plane, the people around him will have a bad time. He then gave a demonstration about how it worked.
I remember a guy in front of me got pulled to the side because he had a plastic/metal torture dildo.
My friend's father—whom I've never met, thankfully—has Crohn's disease and goes around with a colostomy bag—AKA a bag that people with that disease have to wear that goes into their intestines and fills with poop.
When he travels, he sticks his bundled up weed in the poop bag and goes through airport security, apparently never getting checked. I suppose no airport security wants to rifle through a poop bag. Or they assume that no person in their right mind would want to rifle through their own poop bag in order to smoke some poop smoked ganja.
Either way, most disgusting way of smuggling illicit substances internationally that I've heard of so far.
Not a worker but one time I brought a bag of rocks in a Pringles can wrapped in duct tape through security.
"I can take a chainsaw through if I empty out the gas right?" I just stared at him for a long time.
Former ramp agent here. We processed an "emotional support goose." Apparently, it acted as a soothing flight buddy for the passenger...not sure how that works!
Post-9/11, my friend managed to get nunchucks through in his hand luggage. I kid you not.
My uncle works as a TSA agent—I think agent is the right word—at JFK and one time a guy tried to smuggle a flamingo in a suitcase. He stuffed pillows and stuff into the suitcase with the flamingo so if it moved around there would be little-to-no noise, and I guess he thought he could block it from the x-ray stuff by covering it with pillows—so obviously he has no idea how x-rays work. Anyways, he was arrested, obviously.
Also, and this is slightly off topic but still related, but one time my grandmother was leaving to go back to Guyana after visiting us in NY for a month. When she comes here, we usually give her a ton of old clothes/shoes for her to give to poor families in Guyana because they obviously need it more than we do.
On top of that, she buys a bunch of stuff that she can't find in Guyana here in the US and then brings it back with her. Needless to say, she has very full suitcases and one time she couldn't fit all of her stuff. She had a small box of knives that she was going to bring as part of a table set or something.
They weren't really sharp, just the mildly sharp kind you'd get at a TGI Friday’s or Red Lobster, but she opted to just keep them in her large purse without saying anything. My mom was helping her pack and got quite the shock to find that my grandmother planned on keeping knives in her purse while flying.
Baggage handler here. I once was sorting out luggage until I found a rather peculiar bag. It was tied up with rope, very loosely closed and just didn't fit the normal luggage look. I read the tag to where it’s going and it was headed for Colombia (which I handle) so I go ahead and grab it to throw into the bag cart.
As the bag hit the cart the piece of rope holding it all together tore apart and its contents fell out. Lo and behold, pure white cocaine with bricks of marijuana wrapped up nicely to conceal the smell. Now this was in 2000 so I don't remember any type of high security. So I picked up the few bricks and popped them back in the makeshift bag.
As I was placing them in I found a stash of hundred dollar bills. Not one or two I'm talking wrapped in bands Breaking Bad money. So being the teenager I was, I pocketed it and had my own bag filled with nearly $25K. The next day I bought a used car, paid my school off, and invested in an IRA for retirement.
Thanks, stupid drug dealers!
A guy once passed through with two suitcases filled with egg cartons.
EMPTY egg cartons.
That was it.
After some questioning we let him go; he refused to answer a single question and only kept asking “Is this illegal? Why am I not free to go?"
I lie awake at night wondering what his story was...
A story my old high school debate coach told me:
Probably about 10 years ago now, another high school's debate team was going to some national level tournament. When boarding the flight home after the tournament, security pulled aside the debate coach after finding a loaded gun in her suitcase.
This, of course, left her very confused as she had not brought a gun to the debate tournament. Upon seeing it, she identifies it as her husband's gun. She had no idea it was there.
The crazy part of the story wasn't that a gun was found in the bag. It's the fact that the gun was found on the return flight.
Which means on the initial flight out of DFW airport, she walked right through security with a loaded gun in possession and nothing happened to her.
Believe it or not, a high powered magnet. I'm sure there are hundreds of stories of dildos and other gross stuff, but weirdest? Yes, a magnet. This thing was so powerful that, while still in the bag, was ripping off the rollers on our conveyor and literally took 3 adult men to get off.
If you put this thing around 1.5 feet from a metal object and weren't holding it properly it would fly out of your hand. This idiot who was working that day had braces and if I didn't stop him he probably would've ripped out all his teeth. Just so strange and random. We didn't let him take it with him.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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