30 Harmless Things Which Nevertheless Caused People To Be Stopped By TSA Officers, As Shared In This Online Group
Transportation safety is certainly paramount, especially in today's world where the threat of terrorism is always present, so it's not surprising that all major airports in the world have vigilant security services, such as, for example, Transportation Security Administration in the United States.
TSA was created after 9/11, and since this time, its agents have prevented many terrorist attacks. Of course, security officers are taught not to trust anyone and see a menace in seemingly harmless objects - but sometimes, from the point of view of an ordinary passenger, their actions look somewhat paranoid, like a real witch hunt.
There is a popular thread on Reddit whose topic starter asked "What's the weirdest reason you were stopped by TSA?" As of today, it already has more than 2.5K upvotes and even more comments - over 2.6K various examples and stories. Interestingly, such cases are reported not only from the United States, but also from many countries around the world.
Bored Panda made a curated list for you of the weirdest and most out-of-the-ordinary reasons for being searched or detained at an airport, so be sure to scroll to the very bottom of this post - what if there is something completely interesting and amazing there?
More info: Reddit
#1 A Nice-Looking T-ShirtNot in the USA but in France, I got stopped on the way through customs by an agent who said something fast and aggressive-sounding in French. My French isn't great, so I just looked puzzled and said I didn't understand. The guy quickly beckoned another guy over and explained to him in rapid-fire French what was going on. The second guy turned to me and said "He says your T-shirt is really cool and can you tell him where you got it?". It was a Star Wars T-shirt that I got as a birthday present, so I couldn't even tell him where it came from. Luckily, he didn't arrest me.
Image credits: 99thLuftballon
#2 Something Called "A Crotch Anomaly""Crotch anomaly". I was wearing normal joggers, nothing in my pockets. The lady behind me loudly said "yeah it's called a d**k"
Image credits: wot_in_ternation
#3 An Insulin PumpThey thought my insulin pump was a bomb. I was tackled by TSA immediately. I was 14 at the time, still traumatized. Now any time I see any law enforcement I get anxious.
Image credits: MysteryMan04501
#4 A Box With One's Mom's AshesMy mom passed away unexpectedly in California. I flew out to pick up her ashes and there was a terror alert at LAX. It was unreal; the military was in the airport with what looked like machine guns. I was out of my mind with grief and drugged to the gills. I was dealing with a bad back, and had to fly from
California to a small town in Virginia for the memorial service. Security was heightened and everyone was being searched. I only had a small carry on and my mom’s ashes. When I got to the TSA, the agent wanted me to open my mother’s box of ashes! I refused and insisted they x ray the box instead. It showed nothing inside ( duh- ashes) which convinced the TSA agent that it had some sort of cloaking device and was hiding a bomb. Again he insisted that I open the box that held my mom’s ashes. I was beginning to lose my s**t. I called my husband who works in nuclear power and explained what was going on. He told me to tell the TSA agent to place a coin under the box and send it through the X-ray again. He did and thank goodness he saw the coin. Otherwise I would have been arrested for assaulting a stupid TSA agent.
Image credits: Due_Judgment_9518
#5 Glass JellyfishGlass jellyfish
Like those blown glass ones that are super cool at art galleries.
I got pulled aside into a small room because they thought I was smuggling sea life. Was an interesting time.
Image credits: Aelsar
#6 A Few Rocks Of Petrified Wood In A BagOne time my dad had a few rocks of petrified wood in a bag, and had his phone charger right next to it.
They almost went DEFCON 1 and did radio people to show up and act if it went down. But they opened the bag and saw it was rocks and a charger. They told him that it looked absolutely identical to what they had been taught a bomb looked like.
Image credits: AudiieVerbum
#7 A Teddy Bear With A Hole In Its BellyMy niece has a teddy bear. She has had this teddy bear essentially since she was born. The doggo has bitten a hole into its belly, so we sew onto it like a lion head sticker, to keep its guts inside. One time we were on holiday visiting family, and she left it there, luckily I was staying a bit longer so I could grab it on my way back.
An adult man with a teddy bear that had its guts torn open and fixed with a lion bandaid apparently looks pretty suspicious, so they shoved the poor guy into x-ray 3-4 times. She is still in ownership of the teddy bear and it is still in decent shape.
Image credits: Gacsam
#8 Just Having A Decent Beard And A Bit Darker SkinI have maintained a decent beard and have a darker skin complexion for a white dude. I am "randomly" selected for a search or shoe swab every single time I fly.
Image credits: batkevn
#9 Being Searched Because One's ID Was Only A PermitThey searched me when I was 18 and flying alone and said it was because my ID was only a permit. When I went to my connection airport, I told a black TSA women "Do you need to pat me down again because i Have a permit like the last airport?" She looked at me and sighed "No honey. Thats not a thing".
Image credits: BlakAmericano
#10 A Legit, Festive Christmas Soldier NutcrackerI had a nutcracker in my carry-on. Like a legit, festive Christmas soldier nutcracker - it was a gift for my mom's birthday (she collects them). I was only flying in for 2 days for my grandmas funeral so didn't check any luggage. They stopped me and questioned me for 30 minutes. Kept insinuating I was going to use it as a weapon.
Image credits: Pamplem0usse__
#11 Thinking Of A Person Just Trafficking Their PartnerNot TSA but at a land border crossing once they pulled us aside because they thought my partner was Trafficking me?!?!? We were the same age, same race (so racism wasn’t a factor,) and we were both dressed fairly nice (coming back from a wedding) with no obvious signs of like… distress? [Illegal substances]? Gunpoint? Nothing. They pulled us aside and grilled him on all of our relationship things like where we met and how old I am and my mom’s middle name and…?!?!??? Trying to trio him up. Then the guard hit on me?!?!?! Weeeeirdest experience.
Image credits: SillyObjectives
#12 A Bottle Of Perfume And A Pair Of ScissorsI had a sample size (0.1oz) bottle of perfume in my book bag. They confiscated it in Detroit without explanation.
I got to Germany and they discovered a full size pair of scissors in the front pocket of that same book bag. I wasn’t aware it was there. Both I, and American security, had missed the scissors.
German security was much more polite over confiscating the scissors than American was over the perfume.
Image credits: Brunonononoooo
#13 A Hygienic TamponTampon showed up on the body scan thingy and I had to have my crotch patted down
Image credits: Senior-End3315
#14 A Large AvocadoGot pulled to the side at Fort Myers airport. One TSA guy with gloves, two TSA guys standing right behind me. Officer says, is there anything you want to tell me before I open this bag?
I am horribly confused. Wrapped right on top between a few t-shirts is an large Avocado.
TSA guy starts laughing. I love Avocados, my 76 yo father has a tree in his yard... he slipped one in my bag before leaving. Apparently it doesn't look the best going through the x-ray machine, they thought it may be a home-made bomb or grenade.
Image credits: Powellwx
#15 Being Too Tall For One's AgeMy son was too tall for his age
Image credits: capmaverick
#16 Having A Heart Surgery Using Radioactive MaterialNot TSA but the land border, they detected nuclear material. It was because another passenger in my car had some heart surgery or something where they used radioactive material, and apparently it could still be detected. Border patrol pretty much knew what it was but had to check anyway.
Image credits: trymypi
#17 Two Laptops And A TabletArranging my two laptops and a tablet after taking them out of my bag for faster / easier scanning.
I got yelled at and detained because I have Pre-Check.
It took demanding for the scanning agent to join the conversation before I was allowed to leave.
Had I left them all in the bag, I would have gotten stopped for secondary screening.
The TSA is so damn frustrating. They serve no useful purpose except to provide security theater. They miss well over 90% of what they are tested against.
Image credits: MyWorkAccount2018
#18 A Cast On A Broken ArmWhen I was a kid, I had a broken arm and they needed to inspect my cast… cut a piece off of it and put it in some sort of machine.
Also, my dad and oldest brother’s names popped up on the do not fly list because of men with the same name being a part of the IRA. For years when ever my dad and oldest brother went to fly they had to bring all sorts of ID with them to prove that they aren’t the same dudes.
Image credits: anon
#19 A Big Spiderman ToyWhen the Andrew Garfield Spiderman's first came out they did some amazing merch for them.
My Stepdad is a HUGE Spidey fan, so I picked him up the corniest Spiderman film merch when in the US, one of those being like a whirling cement truck thing? It was a big tonka sized thing and the only bag it would fit in was my carry-on. They stopped me and said "Is that a spiderman toy?" and I took it out and showed them. They said it was the best thing they'd seen all day.
Image credits: CharacterSuccotash5
#20 Pulling A Friend Over For Extra SearchingMy friend worked for the TSA. I was at my local airport and saw him while on line. I waved and he looked over. He says something to another agent and when I get to front of the line I get pulled over for extra searching. I never talked to that guy again
Image credits: jnovel808
#21 Having "Ahmed" As One's Last NameLast name is AHMED
Image credits: Na-bro
#22 A Full Size Cane That Folds Into Three For Easy PackingI have bad knees and occasionally bring a cane with me when I travel. I have one called a hurry-cane, basically a full size cane that folds into three for easy packing. TSA requires me to still walk through w/o the cane if possible, so I had folded it up and laid it on my checked luggage for the xray. This obviously new TSA agent has me pulled aside to wait for a supervisor because he said that he is familiar with it and it was a kind of weapon that his character uses in a video game. Was convinced I was trying to hide it as a cane, but that I was openly carrying a Chinese martial arts weapon. Took all of two seconds once the supervisor connected the cane to make the kid realize he was wrong. But had me chuckling.
Another trip but same airport, I was pulled aside because they said the xray showed something suspicious in my carry-on. Emptied the whole bag, opened all zippers and checked all pockets, patted down each pocket, checked seams for hidden pockets, etc. then had me repack everything. Not a word was said to me about what they thought they saw. Return trip, at the other airport, pulled over by TSA for exact same reason. Found nothing again. Haven't used that carry-on since. I'm guessing it's just something weird looking in the frame, but isn't worth the hassle.
Image credits: utauley
#23 Being Just Tall, Broad Shouldered And BaldI'm 6'4", broad shouldered, and bald.
I don't even know who is doing the stopping, because I don't give a s**t at this point, but I have never successfully made it through an airport without being pulled aside to have my s**t searched through, even when all I pack is clothes. I bake in the extra 30 minutes into any flight itinerary I have for this exact reason.
Image credits: MisterBastahrd
#24 An Old Mini-Stapler Looking Just Like A Butterfly KnifePulled me aside after my backpack went through the scanner. I was just sitting there while they searched every pocket four times, running it back through the scanner in between each one. Every time they didn’t find anything they’d bring more people over.
At that point I was starting to get nervous and asked what they were looking for. Guy number 5 searching my bag looks at me and says super accusingly, “we’re looking for the butterfly knife you have hidden in there,” to which I just laughed since butterfly knives are for edgy 14 year olds. I insisted I didn’t have one, they didn’t believe me.
Eventually they found the “knife” it was an old mini-stapler that I had forgotten in there from when I was in school. They seemed embarrassed enough that I just left before they could come up with an excuse to take it out on me.
Image credits: HamiltonsGhost
#25 A Two-Month Baby's DiaperMy then-two month old was flagged by TSA in 2003. They took one look and realized the only bomb was in his diaper. The same season, his grandfather was subject to additional screening. They had the exact same Irish name: first, middle, and last. I surmised that there might have been an IRA person on an interpol list or something with the same name.
Image credits: ZweitenMal
#26 Having The Same First And Last Names As An Alleged TerroristMy friend spent most of a day being checked out/questioned because he has the same first, middle, and last name (all common American names) of a guy who allegedly went to the Middle East to join ISIS.
Image credits: slamdanceswithwolves
#27 A Laptop With A Dead BatteryActually pre-TSA days. Had a s***ty laptop that had a dead battery so I just plugged it in when I used it. Whatever. Security didn't believe it was a laptop. Told me I had to turn it on to prove it. Of course the battery was dead. Had to search for a power outlet. Sitting on the floor booting my s**t laptop while security hovers over me.
Image credits: digitaltrashman
#28 Being Just Sweaty And Stinky After Food PoisoningIt wasn't weird but it was a weird situation. I was flying back from Australia after my working holiday visa ended - just left my fiance. the food poisoning hit riiiight as we were de-boarding to go through customs. first bathroom felt like a mile away. made it in time. went through customs, had to go back through security. absolutely dripping sweat. My shirt had soaked through within minutes.
They swabbed my sweaty lower back, my bag, etc. obviously it was fine but I was desperately trying not to puke or s**t myself. i had a six hour layover to my final destination, spent most of sitting near a trash can just to lean over and puke. Terrible trip all around.
#29 An Old School Razor With A Two Sided Blade DealI had a razor in my bag. Like old school razor with a two sided blade deal. They made me take the blade out... But didn't care about the 50 pack of blades that was right there
Image credits: bigbaltic
#30 Magic Decks In A BagGot held back for 20 mins, on the depart and return, because I had magic decks in my bag. It apparently sets off something like crazy, they had to swab between EVERY single card for multiple 100 card decks. I check them now when I can.
Image credits: PROFITPROPHET