20 crazy things people have tried to smuggle past the TSA at airports

  • The TSA or US Transportation Security Administration maintains a blog showcasing the most ridiculous items they have confiscated.
  • These items include throwing stars, cans of propane, a series of loaded guns, narcotics, and a collection of grenades hidden inside a tactical vest.
  • The TSA was founded on November 19th, 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Air travel was once a much more relaxed affair. When passengers could simply show up to the airport, buy a ticket and then waltz onto the plane. Back then, airport security had a somewhat lackadaisical feel. Passengers were able to carry materials and items on planes that, in retrospect, seem shocking. A 2002 report by CBS News details that baseball bats, darts, knitting needles, pocket utility knifes less than four inches long and scissors were all allowed on aeroplanes.

The September 11 terrorist attacks changed everything. The 107th Congress passed the Aviation Transportation and Security Act that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 19, 2001, establishing the Transportation Security Administration or TSA. Now all airport screening is conducted by specially trained federal employees who are apart of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In fact, by the end of 2002, the TSA had recruited, hired, and trained more than 60,000 Americans, recognised for being the largest mobilization of the federal government since World War II.

These days, the TSA and their security checkpoints are ubiquitous at airports around the US. But there are still the daring and the unaware amongst us that try to sneak items past TSA screeners.

In fact, the agency even documents all of the crazy and absurd items passengers have attempted to smuggle on board aeroplanes in an interesting and informative blog. Here’s a look at some of the weird things people trying to sneak past the TSA:


1. A model of an improvised explosive device or IED


2. Throwing stars and various shivs


3. Knuckle knives


4. Cane swords


5. Machetes


6. Shoe knives


7. A fully-fuelled chainsaw in checked luggage

According to the TSA, chainsaws are never allowed on board as carry-ons but may be transported in checked luggage if it has been purged of all fuel and fuel residue or vapors. Some airlines will only transport engine-powered equipment if it has never contained fuel.


8. An assortment of fire-crackers


9. Smoke grenades


10. Flash bang grenades


11. A collection of four 40mm grenades hidden inside a tactical vest


12. An inert 120mm tank round


13. Loaded guns


14. A lipstick gun and concealed credit card knife


15. Smuggled snakes


16. Snakes and turtles in hosiery


17. Eighty pounds of Marijuana


18. Three pounds of cocaine stuffed in meat


19. Two cans of propane


20. Gunpowder with detonation cords, and timing fuse

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