It seems like the number of things you aren’t allowed to take on airplanes just keeps getting longer. No liquids, no nail clippers, nothing over 5 ounces….you get the idea. That list doesn’t even include the array of stuff they make you do when you actually walk through security. Take your shoes off, x-ray machines, full body scans – it’s no wonder it takes so long to go through airport security.
With all the intense precautions airports take, it’s amazing the number of things that the authorities have managed to miss. From something as small as seeds to fireworks to a machete (but I’ll be sure to ditch those nail clippers), there are plenty of things that just should not have flown (pun intended).
It was pre-9/11, but I took a razor knife/utility knife though security on three different overseas trips before I was stopped with it.
I used my carryon to carry my tools with me for my job and would use it in country as it was easier than carrying all that weight. I tossed a utility knife in there and went through security at least 6 times (probably more than that as I used to go outside if I had time at layover airports).
I was finally stopped with it by a little old lady who was scanning bags at a small airport in the Midwest.
40. A Very Close Shave With Security
A whole lot of Gillette razors. I needed one and they only sold a 10 pack and I only had carry-on luggage. I thought worst case scenario, I have to throw them away and buy more when I get home. They stopped me in security, opened my bag, looked at them, looked at me, and let me go with my 9 razors.
39. 12 Disciples
38. I Ham What I Ham
37. Screw It
36. Always Check Your Bags
35. It’s Not Poison
Bottle of water. I took it past the initial one, the second one stopped me. The security guy asked me to drink the water. So I gulped down 2 gulps of water and told him “See, not poison.”
5 seconds of awkward silence
He then said, “You can’t bring the water in.” Only then did I realize my mistake.
34. The Sly Smuggler
This was back in the days when people shot movies using actual film. I would open the tiny metal film cases with a bottle opener, ditch the film then put whatever I wanted inside and seal the bottom back on. The x-rays can’t see through the metal, so security just assumes a film can has film in it. I smuggled all kinds of stuff domestically and internationally that way. Then film became more and more rare, and I felt more conspicuous traveling with it. Plus I grew up and realized how much trouble I’d be in if I got caught!
33. Those Were The Days
Pre-9/11, I was actually able to board a plane with a chainsaw. It was still new in the box so there was no mistaking what it actually was. Would have made for a loud and messy hijacking.
32. How Does This Happen?
My aunt got two machetes through the airport of JFK. She just wrapped it in newspapers and stuck them in the dirty wet clothes bag. Even going through them by hand no one found them.
31. Let It Grow
Seeds (international travel to the US). I had a full bag of seeds from another trip I made a week before and forgot to take it out of my bag. I felt like Bart Simpson when he took a frog to Australia, totally paranoid when I found them!
30. Watch That Protractor
I accidentally brought a 6-inch buck knife in my carry-on. Bag was x-rayed, then randomly selected for a manual search. I realized it was there when I pulled out my crossword book mid-flight. This was in 2011. Great job, Air Canada! They did confiscate my protractor set, because apparently the pointy end on the compass could be a dangerous weapon.
29. Good To Know
I got myself through Charles De Gaulle airport and right up to getting on the plane without a boarding pass. The scary thing is that it was the day after the Paris shootings last November, and security was supposed to be heightened. How I got that far I don’t know.
28. Way To Go
A full dissection set, with scalpels and blades and deadly stuff like that. Way to go, Barcelona airport!
27. That Lotion Might Be Dangerous
They confiscated my lotion, but neglected to detect the dense long metal self-defense baton I had attached to my key ring.
26. Good Looking Out
I had a credit-card shaped knife that folded into something wieldable. It was more of a gimmick than anything, but one time I got it through airport security solely because I forgot it was in my wallet. On the other hand, I went for federal jury duty, and apparently the X-ray people there pay far more attention than the TSA. I got some odd looks when they asked me about that.
25. Watch Out For Gardeners
A bag with several boxcutters and penknives that were given away at a gardening trade show I attended. I imagine the fertilizer sample packs were probably a no-no also.
24. Give Me All The Bacon You Have
I once brought bacon back to Canada from Germany. It was the really salty Black Forest stuff that was fine if it wasn’t refrigerated. This was around when Mad Cow was all the rage and meat imports were extremely regulated.
23. Forget The Knife, Get The Sunscreen
I was flying from Guatemala to Texas and then again to Philadelphia. I was working on a construction project so I was using a knife and usually had it on me. Going through security in Guatemala they stopped my bag and I thought “oh no, my knife must be in my bag!” They then proceed to pull out my can of spray sunscreen and throw it in the trash. Once I was on the plane I reached into my bag to pull out a game boy and cut myself on all 3 of the extra razor blades in my bag. And the knife was in there too.
22. That’s Some Magic Trick
A baby bunny. I used to fly home every couple of weekends in the early 90’s when I was in university. I figured they never patted me down so just put it in my inside coat pocket. I almost got busted in security when they asked me to take off my jacket after I walked though the metal detector. My coat moved a bit on the table but they never noticed. Once on the plane, I got busted by a stewardess when I brought the bunny out for a bit. She asked if she could pet it. Flying was a lot more fun back then.
21. He Had A Bag Over It
2 knives and a fake samurai sword sticking out of my bag. This was pre 9/11. To be fair, I had a plastic bag over the handle of the sword.
20. Poor Sushi
I smuggled my goldfish in a plastic baggy full of water through, tucked into my sports bra. I made it through fine. I was young and stupid, and poor Sushi passed away after that whole ordeal anyway.
19. To The Moon
Not me, but a friend once brought rocket fuel through TSA. We were traveling for a model rocket competition. Somehow, a rocket motor got into her pocket on launch day and she forgot about it. She wore the same pants for the flight home, and I guess she didn’t notice she still had the motor in her pocket.
18. Got The Pen Though
A box cutter and an Exacto knife. The kicker is I was stopped at security because I had a fountain pen.
17. That Might Work
Full stainless steel water bottle. Kept taking an empty one through till I decided to try not emptying it. No issues on the last handful of flights. Might try filling it with whiskey next time. So I guess not really accidental.
16. Don’t See The Forest For The Trees
6-inch survival knife in my backpack. I forgot to take it out from my last trip. They found my nail clippers and toothpaste but not this dangerous knife!
15. Just Keep Quiet
Not so much an accident, but when I was younger (7-8) me and my brother were flying to visit my grandparents. We both had one of those bubble blowers that look kinda like lightsabers (brand new). His was taken away, but mine wasn’t. I didn’t say anything until were on the plane.
14. Gotta Watch Those Lego Swords
Got through with a pair of handcuffs that I found at a yard sale, but I got a weird look from TSA. My nephew’s foam sword from Legoland was apparently too big a threat to let on the plane, though.
13. Just Make Your Own
I brought 16 oz of chimichurri from Argentina to the US. Technically it’s a liquid. Worst part of it is the chimi was awful, so not even worth it.
12. Hidden In Plain Sight
An Exacto pen/blade. I kept it in a pen case with all my other writing/drawing stuff. Didn’t realize it until I was looking for a pen and saw it in there.
11. He’s Just Testing You
I always take a small pair of spring-loaded, rubber-gripped needle nose pliers on every plane trip in my carry on. 4.5 inches long. 1-inch jaw length. Easy to grip. Would make a great weapon. At least 40 times now – before and after 9/11. Only been questioned once – on a flight out of Germany back to the states. They measured the jaws and gave it back to me.
I don’t expect to ever use it as a weapon. I mostly take it along just to see if they’ll notice – while they take nail clippers from old ladies.
10. Watch Those Spicy Liquids
I managed to bring a canister of pepper spray onto several different airplanes in the same carry-on bag for two different trips. I didn’t realize I had it until a few weeks after my latest adventure.
9. Those Are Expensive Eggs
This wasn’t at an airport, but the border. My mom brought two 12-packs of Kinder Eggs from Mexico for my nephew. She didn’t know they were illegal and it wasn’t until later that I found out we could have been fined about $2,000 per egg. She hasn’t brought back any since.
8. Getting Hammered
Not an airport, but a cruise line. There were 4 of us going on a cruise and we spent extra time beforehand preparing legit looking soda bottles that were strongly mixed. We were so worried about the “soda” passing through the bag check that my friend somehow completely forgot about the massive hammer he had in his bag. They never found the hammer. I’m still not sure that x-ray machine was legit because there is no reason for a person on a cruise ship to have a massive hammer.
7. A Massive Oversight
A large amount of fireworks. We were traveling to Ireland. We had already been through customs in Colorado, connected in DC, went through security in London and then were waiting in the lounge to get on our plane to Ireland. My brother looks in his backpack for a snack, and then turns ghost white and looks at me. He calls me over, and shows me his backpack. He has probably 3 pounds of high-end fireworks– not sparklers, but stuff that goes boom. We got through two security checkpoints with about 3 pounds of black powder. They did catch my drink in my backpack though, so we were safe.
6. Grandma Escobar
Not me, but my grandma. This would’ve been around 50 years ago; my mom and my grandma were returning from a trip to Peru.
Now, before I tell this story, let me tell you about my grandma. She worked as an English teacher in South America for years, but she’s also worked as an interviewer and written books on the life stories of immigrants. She’s the kind of person who will spend a taxi ride learning the life story of the driver and then tell it to everyone she knows.
Needless to say, both my mom and my grandma had souvenirs from their time in Peru. My mom is holding her stuffed llama and about to go through security. The security people at the airport look through my grandma’s bag and find several bags full of crushed leaves, nearly packed, and ask my grandma what they were. My grandma proceeds to tell them the name of the plant, where it originated from, and what its medicinal value is… For every single bag.
Security doesn’t have time for this and waves my grandma through with at least one bag full of coca tea. Then they go over every seam on the llama to make sure it’s not being used to smuggle anything.
5. A Bit Kinky
An entire suitcase full of rope, whips and other equipment. Like no questions asked.
4. A Few Knives
February 2002, Boston Logan flight to the Caribbean: 3 box cutters in my backpack & 2 in my coat pockets (what? I worked in a grocery store). On the way back, I packed 4 of them in my checked luggage and left one sacrificial box cutter in the same place in my backpack, but I made it home with all 5.
3. Only A Bit Of Illegal Substances
A guy I met when traveling told me on his last trip he forgot he had a few grams of illegal substance in his backpack. He traveled for a few months in Asia without realizing and managed to get past a lot of airport security.
2. Ready For Action
Fullblown ammunition. In jacket pocket. Went thru xray too. Auckland, NZ, post 9/11
My passport was expired, I didn’t notice and neither did he!