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

The Transportation Security Administration is expecting a record number of travelers at U.S. airports on Sunday. The agency is preparing for an expected rush at security checkpoints. More than 32 million people will pass through TSA checkpoints between June 27 and July 8, according to the agency. That's 5.4 percent more than in the same period last year.

Given the flood of travelers, TSA officials also expect a larger number of prohibited items on the conveyor belts.

“We saw everything from chainsaws to hand luggage [and] “We've seen larger power tools and saws,” Michael Duretto, deputy federal security director at Los Angeles International Airport, told CBS News senior transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave. “We recently saw a hobby rocket — a large rocket, though — that made it into our checked baggage.”

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“You could say that people would try to pack everything down to the last word if they could,” he added.

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

  • Throwing knives as used by ninjas
  • Samurai Sword
  • Machetes
  • Bag with snakes
  • Tasers
  • Replica of a hand grenade
  • Electric grinder
  • Fireworks

Water bottles and firearms are the most common items seized by TSA officers. TSA agents discovered a record 6,737 firearms at airport security checkpoints last year – most of them manned. In the first quarter of 2024, the agency caught more than 1,500 firearms at airport checkpoints.

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The TSA also routinely intercepts more conventional items. In a recent incident, for example, Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana received an award for an unloaded handgun found in their luggage at Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Although it is legal for airline passengers to travel with unloaded guns, the TSA requires the guns to be locked in a hard-shell suitcase, reported to the airline and placed in passengers' checked luggage.

The TSA does not confiscate firearms. If a weapon is discovered at a checkpoint, the officer must notify local law enforcement to take possession of the weapon. It is up to the law enforcement officer to arrest or cite the passenger according to local law, but the TSA can impose a civil penalty of up to nearly $15,000, according to the agency.

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