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More than 1 in 5 travelers knowingly or unknowingly carried prohibited items onto aircraft, survey finds

Transportation Security Administration agents work at a security checkpoint at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport in Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A survey of airline passengers found that more than 20 percent had knowingly or unknowingly smuggled prohibited items past Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints onto the aircraft, including at least 6 percent who boarded the plane while unintentionally carrying prohibited knives or other bladed objects.

Less than 1 percent claimed that they discovered belatedly that they had mistakenly traveled with firearms, ammunition or explosives.

Odd, yet true, stories on how fliers “forgot” their firearms in carry-ons

The survey of more than 1,000 people — which was conducted by a jet-chartering service Stratos Jet Charters Inc. — also found that younger travelers were more likely to flout the rules. Of the respondents who admitted knowingly trying to fly with something banned by the TSA, 19.7 percent were millennials, compared with less than 15 percent who were members of Generation X.

The most common items whisked past TSA agents on purpose were food and liquids. More than 3 percent admitted knowingly carrying bladed items past security, while 2.2 percent of female respondents and 3.7 percent of male respondents also acknowledged intentionally carrying prohibited drugs onto the aircraft.

If you want to move through TSA checkpoints faster, leave your knives at home

The company said it surveyed travelers around the country to find out how many had accidentally brought contraband through airport security and how  many had done so on purpose. It’s no surprise that the people most likely to haul contraband past security — knowingly or unknowingly — were those who fly the most.

Even stranger, but true, stories of people with guns at airports

As the company points out, however, the TSA guidelines are somewhat complicated and confusing. People are often uncertain of what liquids they can carry or how much of them. So it’s no surprise that the largest amount of stuff seized by the TSA happens to be forbidden liquids. For a time, people thought the TSA might be treating books as contraband.

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