Even the kitchen sink: Snakes and other strange items found at TSA checkpoints

The Transportation Security Administration said it expects a record number of travelers at U.S. airports on Sunday as the agency braces for what is projected to be a crush at security checkpoints. More than 32 million people are forecast to pass through TSA screening between June 27 and July 8, according to the agency, a 5.4% increase from the same period last year. 

With that tidal wave of travelers, TSA officials also expect to see a higher volume of banned items on conveyor belts.

“We’ve seen anything from chainsaws on carry-on baggage [and] we’ve seen larger power tools and saws,” Michael Duretto, deputy federal security director for Los Angeles International Airport, told CBS News senior transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave. “Recently, we saw a hobby rocket — but it was a large rocket — that came to our checked baggage.”

“You can say that people will try to pack the kitchen sink if they could,” he added.

And try they have, said Martin Garcia, a TSA officer in Los Angeles, who told Van Cleave that he has seen someone try to carry on a kitchen sink, while another passenger attempted to bring deer antlers on board. Other strange things TSA agents have intercepted so far this year include:

  • Throwing knives, such as those used by ninjas
  • Samurai sword
  • Machetes
  • Bag of snakes
  • Tasers
  • Replica hand grenade
  • Electric sander
  • Fireworks

Bottles of water and firearms are the most frequently stopped items by TSA officials. TSA agents discovered a record 6,737 firearms at airport security checkpoints last year — most of them loaded. In the first quarter of 2024, the agency intercepted more than 1,500 firearms at airport checkpoints.

TSA also routinely intercepts more conventional items. In one recent incident, for example, Rep. Victoria Spartz, an Indiana Republican, received a citation for an unloaded handgun found in her luggage at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Although it is legal for airline passengers to travel with unloaded guns, the weapons must be locked in a hard-sided case and declared to the airline and placed in the passengers’ checked baggage, according to the TSA.

TSA doesn’t confiscate firearms. When a gun is detected at a checkpoint, the agent must summon local law enforcement to take possession of the weapon. It is up to the law enforcement officer to arrest or cite the passenger in accordance with local law, but the TSA can impose a civil penalty of up to almost $15,000, according to the agency. 

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