15 Crazy Items Caught by the TSA

By: Arthur Gold | Published: Aug 18, 2022

At U.S. airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) takes care of security. They enforce the rules of what you can and can’t bring on airplanes to help ensure traveler safety. Some items – such as weapons and explosives – are banned because they pose a huge danger. Others, however, are a bit more tricky.

For example, should headlights, cow horns, or pizza be allowed or banned? Although the TSA has general rules for how to deal with a broad range of carry-on items, sometimes passengers stump them with, well, headlights, cow horns, and pizza. So, let’s take a look at 15 crazy items they found.

Snake and Scorpion Wine

Rice wine, as you might have guessed from the name, is a kind of alcohol made from fermented rice. It’s very popular in Asia and comes in flavors ranging from apple to mango to, well, snake and scorpion. At least that seems to be the case with the carry-on item below.

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Image credit: DaveHax

We imagine it shocked the security team at Ontario International Airport when they uncovered it. After the shock, however, they looked through the guidelines and found that it was ok to go – the creatures weren’t endangered and the bottle was the right size.

Have Your Cake and Drink It Too

Since there are so many specific exceptions to the TSA’s general rules for what you can and can’t bring on an airplane, they’ve set up an @AskTSA account on both Twitter and Facebook. The woman with the birthday cake below asked if her birthday cake was allowed on board.

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@tsa/Instagram

Despite its appearance, the cake isn’t edible. Instead, it’s drinkable. She was allowed to bring it in her carry-on because the Hennesey liquids were less than 3.4 ounces. However, she wasn’t allowed to drink the cake midflight.

Lobsters on a Plane

Although seasoned TSA agents have seen a lot, there’s always room for surprise. For example, a surprising live lobster. Most people tend to leave the live ones in the ocean or a fish tank, but one passenger decided to bring it 30,000 feet in the air.

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Well, it turns out there’s good news for lobster fans everywhere – they’re allowed in both carry-on and check-in baggage. So, no need to stay up all night fretting about whether or not you can travel with your lobster: you can.

Nun-Chucks, Just In Case

Guns, knives, maces, swords, machetes, and other kinds of weapons are (understandably) not allowed on planes. There’s just too much potential for something to go wrong. That being said, there is a bit of leeway for certain kinds of weapons. For example, nunchucks.

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The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Or, more accurately, “nun-chucks” because this pair of martial arts weapons are literally made up of two nuns joined in prayer. Perhaps the TSA agents saw this one, thought it was cute, and allowed it to go onboard. Still, the passenger made sure not to use them mid-flight.

For When the Hunger Hits

It’s no secret that New Yorkers love their pizza, and by “their pizza” they mean pizza made in the city – not at the airport. The best way to ensure you get a hot and fresh slice prior to boarding is to bring your own pizza.

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@tsa/Instagram

Oddly enough, bringing pizza isn’t all that uncommon and it’s not a big deal. Pizza is allowed in carry-on and in checked luggage. However, like all luggage, the pizza must make its way through the X-ray machine – and soak in some radiation along the way.

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Are Swords Allowed?

Although using swords for battles is pretty rare today, people still have an attraction to these ancient weapons. They may be history buffs, fantasy movie buffs, or simply enjoy good craftsmanship. Whatever the reason, people like to have swords. Sometimes, that means traveling with them.

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That, however, is difficult. Swords (as you might have guessed) are considered to be weapons, and weapons aren’t allowed on board. Trying to hide them in your guitar case is a surefire way to get them confiscated – and to get you questioned by security.

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Just...Terrifying

Most airports allow you to bring more or less whatever book you want, whether that be a controversial comic or a rated-R novel. The only books that security will stop and search are books that don’t look like books at all. In other words, the “book” below.

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@tsa/Instagram

There’s no writing between the covers. Instead, there are some wires, batteries, and what looks to be a burn mark. Needless to say, this explosive-looking device didn’t make it on board – and, we imagine, neither did the passenger who tried to bring it though.

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You Never Know When You'll Need a Cowhorn

We’d like to clear the air by setting the record straight on a very important question. We know that millions of people regularly lose sleep before a flight as they fret over one thing: are cow horns allowed onboard?

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We are here to tell you that, yes, cow horns are allowed in your checked luggage or carry-on. Although nobody has regularly used cow horns for drinking since the age of the Vikings over 1,000 years ago, some still enjoy how they look and feel.

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Leave Me Bee

Like we said above, the TSA has general rules for what you are and aren’t allowed to bring on a flight. In most cases, these rules are enough. However, some people bring such unique items that they can’t possibly be covered by the rules. For example, bees.

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When TSA opened this woman’s luggage and found a bunch of bees, they were truly stumped. So much so that they had to ring up the airline to get guidance. If carefully stored live lobsters are allowed, then why not bees?

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A Headlight 

The classic “business or pleasure” pretty much sums up the reason people hop on planes to travel. Either they’re meeting up with new clients to seal the deal or they’re unwinding on a tropical beach for a week or two.

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@tsa/Instagram

Well, as you can see above, there’s a third class of travelers: those who purchase a single car headlight. It looks like the classic line needs to be upgraded to “are you traveling for business, pleasure, or to buy a single car headlight?” If it’s the last one, the headlight is allowed onboard.

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Casual Dragon Balls

Now, it’s no secret that nearly everyone has a collection of dragon balls sitting in a beautiful box at home. How else are you supposed to, you know, summon dragons and give them toys to play with? The real question concerns travel: are you allowed to travel with dragon balls?

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@tsa/Instagram

The dragon balls aren’t really weapons any more than a baseball is a weapon. However, a baseball isn’t going to summon a dragon mid-flight – the dragon balls just might. They’re better left in checked luggage or at home.

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Can't Stand the Rain

Generally speaking, umbrellas are meant to protect you from the rain, and they’re allowed as carry-on luggage. However, in some cases, umbrellas are meant to do more, and they aren’t allowed. For a clear illustration of that, take a look at the picture below.

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Alongside protecting the passenger from the rain, this umbrella also seems to be … fighting the rain. Or fighting off people who might want to steal the umbrella. Whatever the reason for the knuckles, security saw it as a potential weapon and banned the umbrella.

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She Was Too Big :(

Some items are banned from carry-on luggage because they’re dangerous. Others are banned because they’re too big. Usually, this means liquids larger than 3.4 ounces. However, it can also mean massive teddy bears. This guy’s size was way too big to fit under the seat or into an overhead compartment.

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So, he was left pre-security next to the trash can. As you can see from his sullen expression, the teddy bear is not happy about missing his flight and waiting around in the airport for hours.

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Guess They Won't Be Bringing Desert

Thanksgiving sees a huge spike in travel as millions of people hop on planes to meet up with family members. The most famous feast of the year includes appetizers such as cheese and crackers, entrees such as turkey and stuffing, and desserts such as ice cream and pumpkin pie.

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@tsa/Instagram

The passenger above didn’t want to risk losing her favorite can of pumpkin pie mix by putting it in her checked luggage, so she asked if it was okay to carry on. Unfortunately, it’s not. Canned food items must go in your check-in luggage.

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Alligator Head...So Relatable

Some items such as bombs and weapons are obviously not allowed on board. Other items such as snake and scorpion rice wine are allowed if they’re the right size. However, what about alligator heads?

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They aren’t really weapons (although they do have some sharp teeth) and they’re a reasonable size (aka, they can fit into a bag). So, what’s the deal? Well, apparently alligator heads are allowed on board – although, you’re bound to give TSA a look of surprise and mild suspicion.

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