10 Strange Things Discovered by the TSA

5 min read

People are always trying to sneak things past the TSA — drugs, knives, explosives. But, what about a human skull? Or a cannon barrel? How about a rotting corpse?

No, this isn’t a scene from a movie. These events actually happened in real life. Continue reading to see what other strange things people have tried to take through a TSA checkpoint.

10. A Human Skull


For some of you, the first thought that probably entered your mind was that the person with the human skull in their possession was probably a serial killer. It certainly did cross my mind.

Or, perhaps some of you thought it might have been an archaeologist. Well, if you thought either of those things, I must tell you that you were absolutely… WRONG.

According to an article published by CNET, the passenger who had the human skull didn’t even know they had it. In fact, it — or at least fragments of it — was hidden inside some clay pots in the passenger’s possession.

“The fragments weren’t a security threat, but they slowed down the screening process because the screening area became a crime scene,” the TSA wrote, according to CNET.

9. A Dead Shark


Last year, TSA agents at Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York discovered a dead shark floating in a jar of liquid chemical preservative that a passenger was attempting to bring through a security checkpoint.

Obviously, the dead shark wouldn’t be a threat to anyone, so what exactly was the problem? The chemical preserving the shark. All liquids must undergo separate screening by a TSA officer before they’re allowed to be carried through a checkpoint.

I guess it’s safe to assume that this particular liquid didn’t pass inspection. On another note, you can carry live fish with you on your flight if they are swimming in water.

8. A Cannon Barrel

cannon barrel

On the night of Oct. 20, 2014, while checking bags for a flight departing from Kahului Airport in Hawaii bound for San Francisco, TSA agents made a disturbing discovery — a cannon barrel tucked away in a passenger’s clothes in his suitcase.

Thankfully, the barrel was unloaded, and the passenger was allowed to fly, although he had to make special arrangements to transport the cannon barrel. And, while TSA blogger Bob Burns told the Los Angeles Times that this is the first cannon barrel he recalls discovering, he did admit that TSA agents have actually discovered cannonballs in the past.

7. A Bird Wrapped in Socks and Taped to a Passenger

Woman Holding Bird

A woman attempted to sneak two birds wrapped in socks and taped to her leg and chest through a TSA security checkpoint. So, what tipped off the TSA agents? Well, they noticed that the lady’s clothes were just a tad bit too bulky.

This triggered a pat-down and led to the discovery of the birds. Consequently, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers arrested the woman “on suspicion of smuggling and exporting an endangered species out of the United States,” CNET wrote in an article on its website.

According to United Airlines, you can actually take your pet bird with you on your flight. In fact, they may travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the U.S.

6. A Chain Saw

Chain Saw

Believe it or not, you can bring a chain saw with you on your flight — as long as it’s in your checked luggage and it isn’t leaking fumes.

Anywho, I guess an Albany International Airport traveler didn’t get the memo because he or she thought it was perfectly fine to bring their chain saw in their carry-on bag.

And, apparently, a Chicago O’Hare traveler didn’t get the memo either, as the chain saw they brought with them had fuel vapors wafting out of their bag.

That being said, make sure you clean your chain saw before packing it and make sure you pack it in your checked bag and not in your carry-on. Oh yeah, and if you’re unsure if a specific airline will allow you to travel with your chain saw, just give them a call ahead of time to find out if it’s okay.

5. A Sword


The TSA had a good laugh when a San Antonio traveler thought it would be okay to bring a replica of a “Lord of the Rings” sword through a security checkpoint. The administration took to Instagram to post a photo of the sword along with a bunch of “Lord of the Rings” joke references:

“Listen, we know you’ve been rambling on ever since you lost your girl so fair in the darkest depths or Morodor, but your sword needs to be packed with your checked luggage,” the post read.

“Whether you’re a Ranger of the North or a United States Marine, we knew you need to travel with your sword,” the post continued. “It’s fine; just place it in your checked baggage.”

4. A Rotting Corpse


This has got to be the strangest thing a TSA agent has ever encountered, hands down. Okay, so here is how the story goes: This guy was flying with a rotting corpse. He wheeled it up (in a wheelchair) to the checkpoint, where it fit on the X-ray belt, and agents could screen it through the X-ray. Thankfully, it was just a movie prop and not a murder victim. Still, though, that didn’t stop fellow travelers from giving the man some really strange looks.

3. A Kitchen Sink

Kitchen Sink

Have you ever heard someone say how a person brought everything but the kitchen sink with them on a trip? Well, this time they brought everything, including the kitchen sink! That’s right.

According to an article published by Thrillist, TSA blogger Bob Burns admitted that he once saw a traveler bring an actual kitchen sink along with them on their flight. And, here’s a fun fact for all you guys and gals out there: kitchen sinks are actually allowed!

2. Pizza


Airline food can suck, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to extremes and bring a whole pizza with you. But that’s exactly what someone did at an airport in Philadelphia.

According to an article published by CNET, the TSA posted a photo on its Instagram feed of a pizza about to make its way through an X-ray scanner at the airport. Lucky for the traveler, the pizza wasn’t confiscated. Hopefully, they decided to share it with their fellow passengers.

1. Ninja Climbing Claws

Ninja Climbing Claws

An airline traveler had their ninja climbing claws confiscated by the TSA — but not for a reason, you think. The truth of the matter is that it’s totally acceptable to travel with ninja climbing claws, as unbelievable as that may sound. So, what was the problem, then? The traveler decided to pack them in their carry-on bag instead of their checked baggage.

On a side note, I’m not sure why anyone would feel the need to take climbing claws with them in their carry-on… unless they were planning on attacking someone with them.

Or, perhaps they just wanted to show them off to the passenger in the seat next to them. Either way, if you plan on taking them with you on your next trip, be sure to put them in your checked baggage. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you do.