Strange Things Found by Airport Security

Caroline Morse, July 16, 2014
Fares from Washington DC:

    Don't feel bad about forgetting to toss your bottled water before the airport security checkpoint. That's nothing compared to what some of your fellow travelers have been up to. You won't believe these 10 bizarre things found by airport security. And you might learn a thing or two about what you can't bring on board a flight, too.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

    Human-Skull Fragments

    Carefully check your vacation purchases before heading to the airport. You never know when they may end up containing human-skull fragments. Passengers in Ft. Lauderdale were seriously delayed in 2013 when the clay pots they'd checked in their luggage were found to contain fragments of human skull. According to the TSA, the flyers claimed they didn't realize that their souvenirs came with bonus body parts inside. The pieces weren't considered a security threat by the TSA but were instead treated as evidence in a crime scene.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/Image Work/amanaimagesRF)


    Nobody ever intends to pack fire (we hope), but you could accidentally start one in your luggage if you pack the wrong stuff. Take, for example, this incident in Atlantic City, when a flyer's checked bag exploded into three-foot-high flames. The fire was caused by a combination of a leaking can of hair spray and a lighter, which sparked when the bag was being loaded onto the conveyor belt. Even if you're not packing a lighter, it's a good idea to stow all liquids and aerosols (like hair spray) in a plastic bag in case of leaks.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

    A Dead Body

    Come on, people, Weekend at Bernie's is a comedy, not a great source of inspiration to help you avoid paying extra to transport a corpse. We're shocked at how many people have tried to pass off a body as a "sleeping" passenger, like the family that tried to haul a dead body through airport security in a wheelchair in order to avoid paying a fee, or the mother-and-daughter team that tried to smuggle a 91-year-old dead man onto a flight by putting him in sunglasses and dumping him in a wheelchair.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)


    Did you know that cannonballs can retain their explosiveness for years and then randomly detonate on their own? Neither did we, but we still wouldn't pack them in our luggage. (Think of the overweight fees alone.) And, unfortunately for the 290 passengers who were delayed at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport in 2012, neither did the diver who tried to bring home an old cannonball he found near a shipwreck.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

    240 Live Fish

    Hey, we're not here to judge—maybe you went on an amazing snorkeling vacation and were overwhelmed with the urge to start your own aquarium. And maybe you couldn't wait to get home to buy your new pets. That's fine. Most airlines will actually let you ship your new fishy friends home via cargo. But don't be that guy who decides to transport 240 fish in four large hard-sided suitcases—suitcases filled with nothing but water and fish.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)


    G'day, mate! Bringing home a boomerang as a souvenir from Australia? You can carry it on Australian flights, but once aboard your U.S.-bound plane, you'll need to transfer that boomerang to your checked baggage. It's considered a deadly weapon stateside. Airport security has confiscated boomerangs in the past, so you'd better check it.

    (Photo: Hotel Particulier Montmartre)

    Venomous Snakes

    We bet the writers of The TSA Blog get some super-weird comments (maybe even weirder than the comments we get here)—which is probably what prompted this update to a story: "A container of dead venomous snakes was found in checked baggage at Newark (EWR). Updated 3/3/12 to add that dead snakes are not prohibited. The snakes were permitted to travel. The large liquid jar holding the snakes needed to be inspected due to an explosive-detection system alarm. No dead snakes were harmed during the making of this post. We just took advantage of the photo op." So take note, travelers. You can totally pack your dead snakes, just be careful if you store them in liquid.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

    18 Severed Heads

    Packing 18 severed heads in your luggage? Not a problem, as long as you have the right paperwork. Packing 18 severed heads in your luggage and then losing them? Totally a problem. In 2013, some misplaced human craniums made, um, headlines when they were misplaced at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. (They were medical specimens, and there was a mix-up with some paperwork.)

    Security kept a cool head about the incident, though. As Brian Bell, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesman, told the Chicago Sun-Times, "Everybody here is, 'Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads,' and everybody thinks that it's unheard of. It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment. We've seen it at various ports in the nation."

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

    A Baby

    Parents: Please do not put your baby through an X-ray scanner. Airport security will probably notice that there is a living human inside there. One couple was busted at an airport in the United Arab Emirates when they tried to smuggle their young son (who did not have a visa) into the country by packing him inside a carry-on bag. Unsurprisingly, the jig was up when officials spotted the boy on X-ray.

    (Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

    Samurai Sword

    Remember, people: If you're in doubt about what you can bring on board a plane, you can always go to the TSA's website or mobile app and use the "Can I Bring?" feature. Simply type in whatever you're wondering about and you'll get an immediate answer. This would have saved the person who tried to take a samurai sword aboard a plane at Boston's Logan International Airport earlier this month a lot of hassle.

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    This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Strangest Things Ever Found by Airport Security.

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    (Lead Photo: Getty Images/E+)