Bored while waiting to board? Pull out a smartphone or laptop and be ready for a healthy dose of “what?!” and “no way!” The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has its very own mind-blowing blog and Instagram, full of illegal items that were discovered as passengers went through security to board their flights. Gain a new respect for the people who pat people down everyday and who x-ray everyone’s belongings. Weapons, smuggled animals, cute TSA dogs, and good traveling reminders abound on these unrealized gems. Here are some of the highlights.

Seeing Stars

Ever seen throwing stars in movies? Jackie Chan isn’t the only one trying to dodge these bad boys. Everything from classic ninja shurikens to decorated folded throwing stars are found in passengers’ luggage. For comic book fans, batarangs are also popular items that are regularly confiscated, so next convention, consider flying home with a softer, fuzzier souvenir.

Looking Sharp

Introducing the lipstick knife, the belt buckle knife, the comb or brush knife, the key knife, the phone case knife, and the gun knife. Normal household objects are too often transformed into mini weapons, and earn the groans of hundreds of fellow passengers whose travel plans were accidentally interrupted.

A Wild Ride

Turtles, snakes, and birds together usually equal the inhabitants of a neighborhood wetland. However, these animals have been found by TSA officers, hidden within the confines of pantyhose, socks, and pants. The animals were taken care of by U.S. Fish and Wildlife officers and the individuals smuggling them were arrested. Talk about a wild ride.

Held Up History

Age doesn’t even give passengers a pass in the security line. One of the most unique TSA stops was for an unloaded cannon barrel, nestled within a passenger’s checked baggage. There have also been a few cannonballs, old inert grenades, a sickle, and a mace and chain. Who knew history was so dangerous?

Remember, these things are all illegal to carry on a plane, and traveling smart is always the best way to go. Check out the things you can take on a plane and refresh your memory on good traveling practices on the TSA blog, Also, check out the “Can I bring my” tool on Type in an item, and find out whether that item is carry-on only, permitted in checked baggage, or not safe to fly. They also provide the instructions for those items, like weight or amount limits. Give it a look before boarding your next flight and breeze through security.

Did you know?

Live fish: The TSA states that live fish should be carried onto a flight and “Live fish must be transported in a clear, plastic, spill proof container. In this case, the container may be larger than 3.4 ounces. A Transportation Security Officer will visually inspect your live fish at the checkpoint.”

Fingernail and toenail clippers and nail files: There are rumors that such things aren’t allowed, but it is only if these items have a knife attached that they are taken away.

Beverages: “Wine, liquor, beer, and all of your favorite beverages are permitted in your checked baggage. You can also bring beverages packaged in 3.4 oz. or less bottles in your carry-on bags in the baggie.”

Gel Inserts for shoes: They are now permitted! People with aching feet can breathe a sigh of relief.

Dry ice: Can be carried on or put in checked luggage, but it must be under five pounds.

Travel without an ID: It is possible to travel without an ID, but it is not recommended. The process involves showing whatever identification you have on you: credit and debit cards; filling out a form; and answering questions drawn from a public database to affirm your identity.

Bicycle tools: Can be carried on, but they must be seven inches or under.


—Sam Lund