TSA blog reveals true tales of dumb and dumber passengers


Transportation Security Administration security agents check a traveler's luggage. (Andrew Burton/Reuters)

With summer-vacation travel season in full swing, it’s worth a look, if only to understand why those lines might be so long.

Why, it could be that some guy ahead of you plunked down a grenade (but, he insists, it’s just a harmless paperweight!). Or maybe it’s because a passenger who accidentally packed a loaded .22 caliber pistol in his carry-on bag decided that instead of checking the gun, he’d just hide it in a potted plant in the airport. Of course, TSA’s crack team of “Behavior Detection Officers” witnessed the none-too-stealthy dropoff.

The blog’s “Week in Review” reads a bit like a roundup of the world’s dumbest would-be criminals. Hmmm ... where to hide that knife you’d like to sneak by security? Why not put it in a sock and stuff it into an envelope filled with dolls? That fool-proof strategy didn’t work for a passenger in Tampa.

And how to cleverly disguise a stun gun? Try putting it in a walking cane, like a James Bond wannabe did at the Knoxville, Tenn., airport. “Yes, a stun cane!” the blog notes. “That’s a first for the Week in Review posts … ”

Maybe the cane’s former owner should get points for creativity, if not for brilliance.

The blog includes helpful tips for travellers, such as this one, prompted by the aforementioned grenade-toting passenger: “While I know that inert grenades are cool conversation pieces and make great paperweights ... inert items cause problems at checkpoints,” a TSA blogger notes. “We don’t know they’re inert until we check them out, and checking them out can often inconvenience your fellow passengers.”

We also enjoy the site’s whimsical headlines describing various confiscated taboo items, such as “Eau de Kaboom” (a cologne bottle shaped like — you guessed it — a grenade) and “Holy Bat Stars, Batman” (sharp throwing stars).

And we wonder why restaurants have to label their steaming cups of coffee with labels identifying them as “hot.”

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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