Friday, June 29, 2012

TSA Week in Review: Portland Passenger Puts Pistol in Potted Plant

Due the upcoming holiday, this Week in Review covers June 22nd through June 27th. 


Items in the Strangest Places - It’s one thing to forget you had a prohibited item in your bag, but when you intentionally try to sneak it past us, you could wind up being cited or even arrested by law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where passengers tried to sneak items past our Officers.

  • A passenger at Portland (PDX) remembered they had a loaded .22 caliber pistol in their carry-on bag prior to going through the checkpoint. After speaking with a TSO, they were directed to the baggage counter where they could declare the firearm and check it as luggage. Well, a few moments later, he was spotted by our Behavior Detection Officers placing the gun in a potted plant and walking back toward the checkpoint. Needless to say, he was arrested by local law enforcement before reaching the checkpoint. 
  • A passenger at Tampa (TPA) tried to conceal a knife by placing it inside a sock stuffed into an envelope with dolls. 
  • A passenger at Greensville/Spartanburg (GSP) had a knife concealed in a can of loose tobacco.
Inert Grenade Lighter
Passenger Divests Grenade – A passenger at Las Vegas (LAS) truly didn’t know that grenades were a problem because they placed it in a divesture bowl out in the open for all to see. The passenger stated that he uses the item as a paper weight. Another passenger at Newark (EWR) had a novelty grenade torch lighter in their checked baggage. While I know that inert grenades are cool conversation pieces and make great paperweights, read here and here on why inert items cause problems at checkpoints. We don’t know they’re inert until we check them out and checking them out can often inconvenience your fellow passengers.

Plastic Knife
Body Scanner Discoveries This Week – There were a total of 9 illegal/prohibited items discovered this week with the body scanners at: HTS, OGG, MLI, PBI, FAT, 3 at SFO, and ATL. Among these finds was a passenger at Moline (MLI) who had a 4” knife concealed in his sock.

Stun Guns – 7 stun guns were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints around the nation at: BNA, 2 at SFO, ATL, HSV, JAX, PHL
People Say the Darndest Things – Here is an example of what not to say at the airport. Statements like these not only delay the people who said them but can also inconvenience lots of other passengers if the checkpoint or terminal has to be evacuated:

  • During a bag search at Baltimore (BWI), a passenger stated: “I have a bomb in my bag.”
  • During checkpoint screening at Orlando (MCO), a passenger stated: “I have a bomb in my shoe.”
Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also found firearm components, realistic replica firearms, stun guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and oodles of knives.

4 loaded firearms.
4 loaded firearms.
3 loaded firearms.
3 loaded firearms.
4 loaded firearms.

Firearms - Here are the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday.

23 guns discovered. 18 were loaded.

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure
Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Traveling with Crematory Remains

The subject of traveling with crematory remains has been in the news recently. As part of our standard operating procedures, TSA has a clear process for screening crematory remains. Our Officers routinely conduct these types of screenings throughout our nation’s airports.

Passengers may transport crematory remains as part of their carry-on property or checked baggage. Some airlines do not allow crematory remains as checked baggage, so check with your airline first.

If carrying on the crematory remains, they are subject to screening and must pass through the X-ray machine. If the X-ray Operator cannot clear the remains, TSA may apply other, non-intrusive means of resolving the alarm. Under no circumstances will an officer open the container, even if the passenger requests this be done. If the officer cannot determine that the container does not contain a prohibited item, the remains will not be permitted.

We understand the emotional stress passengers may be under when transporting the remains of a loved one.   Our guidelines for traveling with crematory remains  is not intended to make this already emotionally difficult process more complex than needed. However, crematory remains are one of the many sensitive items that could be exploited by someone wanting to conceal a dangerous item.

If you have questions, concerns or would like to provide feedback, please feel free to contact the TSA Contact Center at

TSA Social Media Team