Facility Security

TSA Unveils 2021’s Top 10 ‘Most Unusual’ Items Caught at Security Checkpoints

Security is serious business, but who says industry professionals can’t have a sense of humor?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has unveiled a Top 10 list of the “most unusual” items found nationwide at airport security checkpoints in 2021. The agency released the list in a quirky online video available on its Twitter and YouTube accounts, as well as embedded below.

“From bear spray to meth-rritos, our officers found some truly unusual items,” the agency wrote. “They worked hard to keep travelers safe as they returned to the skies.”

In concert with its video, the TSA released a series of equally quirky press releases from some of the airports included in the Top 10 list. Check them out below:

Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) – No. 10

On Sept. 4, 2021, the security team at ACY detected six bullets that a traveler had artfully concealed inside a stick of deodorant. Let’s be clear, bullets are not permitted to be carried through a security checkpoint. It was a creative attempt to subvert security, but of course an X-ray machine can detect bullets! The item triggered an alarm, alerting the officers to take a closer look at what could have caused the alarm. The bullets were in the deodorant, and quite frankly, that stinks!

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) – No. 9

On Aug. 21, 2021, the TSA officers at EWR detected a long-barreled revolver with a wooden grip that looked very much like an antique pistol. It was the type of handgun that you might have seen pulled during one of several movie shootouts in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” or “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” 

Of course, guns are not permitted to be carried through an airport security checkpoint.

Harrisburg International Airport (MDT) – No. 6

TSA officers at Harrisburg detected a well-worn, heavy-duty, wooden-handled cleaver that also featured a round hole in the upper corner of the blade. The dirtied blade and handle of the cleaver showed its age with what appeared to be several years’ worth of wear and other markings as a result of frequent use.

Knives of any type—including cleavers—are not permitted to be carried through an airport security checkpoint.

Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR) – No. 3

TSA officers at Syracuse detected a traveler who was carrying an assortment of fireworks and related pyrotechnic devices in their carry-on bag on Dec. 21, 2021. The spectacle devices are highly flammable, and each was labeled as such.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is adamant that fireworks don’t fly. The FAA website states that firecrackers, bottle rockets, poppers, sparklers, M-80s, fire crackers, Roman candle, and all fireworks, no matter how small, are forbidden in carry-on and checked baggage. Fireworks and related items are considered dangerous or hazardous materials because they are highly flammable and can contribute to catastrophic incidents should things go wrong.

The FAA developed a poster to make the point that fireworks are prohibited from being brought onto airplanes.

For more information on what you can and cannot bring on an airplane, visit TSA.gov.