Thursday, December 13, 2012


Go Visit Your Contraband

Where your corkscrew lives on without you. What have you left in the bin of death, and how often does it cross your mind?

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age 12 - safety scissors. good work TSA, you nailed the bad guy!


☺super... star!!!@a

The Lady of Shalott

My beloved jackknife that I got at age six. But stupidly I forgot it in a duffel bag and it was detected and disposed of while I was in the middle of moving two provinces away. Sadly.

fondue with cheddar

I never had a weapon confiscated, but I did have a bottle of lotion confiscated that I forgot to remove from my purse. I was really upset because it was brand new and I had to order it off the internet because it's hard to find.

Tuna Surprise

@fondue with cheddar
Did you slather yourself with it before you handed it over?

Faintly Macabre

@fondue with cheddar My sister and I both had our tiny bottles of Purel confiscated when we were flying from Costa Rica to the U.S. They claimed that alcohol, even in miniscule quantities, was forbidden in carryons.

fondue with cheddar

@Tuna Surprise I considered it!

@Faintly Macabre That's good to know! Do they make hand sanitizer without alcohol in it? I have no idea because I don't use it.

Faintly Macabre

@fondue with cheddar It's not actually forbidden! I just double-checked, and apparently other people have had it confiscated but it is allowed. I can't even imagine what they thought two teenage girls would be plotting to do with something that looked like Purel, smelled like Purel, and was in a tiny Purel bottle. Even if it were drinkable alcohol, it was barely a shot's worth each.

fondue with cheddar

If anyone tried to hijack a plane with a Wiffle bat and it actually worked...I almost feel like they should be allowed to get away with it.


@fondue with cheddar It says something about the amount of CSI/L&O/Criminal Minds episodes that I've seen that I immediately thought of several ways one could make a wiffleball bat into a murderous weapon, and then I made several sad expressions.

fondue with cheddar

@PatatasBravas :(

Honestly? One could make anything into a murderous weapon.


I am currently in mourning of a lovely padfolio I left on a flight Monday. With it I lost the appearance of being prepared at an interview and also a postcard with a possum on it.


My swiss army keychain. :( I forgot to take it off before I left, and actually made it through TWO airports before it got taken on my trip home.


@OhMarie: Exactly this happened to me too. It almost happened a second time with the replacement, but I remembered in time. I hid it under the bark in a planter in my home airport, then retrieved it upon returning.


@laurel Whoa, I would never think of that! Amazing.


@OhMarie Yeah, I had a similar thing happen. In college I kept mace on my keychain for walking around alone in the city. I flew back and forth from my home state at least two or three times a year in college. And I always forgot the mace was there because after having it so long, it just became like another key, otherwise I definitely would have taken it off before flying. And no one in TSA ever caught it. I flew with it at least 8 times before my husband (then-boyfriend) noticed I had it when we were flying together, and told me to throw it away before I got arrested.

I also never take my mini lotions, lip glosses, and other various bottles out of my purse, and no one ever says anything to me. I must fly in and out of extremely lax airports.


Mini lotions & lip gloss are generally under the 3 oz. limit. Also, thankfully, major airports have stopped enforcing the "liquids" rules in general very much. They seem to be focusing on more probably threats instead.
It's only when I go through smaller regional airports now -- *especially* the ones terrorists probably haven't even heard of, let alone consider a useful target -- that the liquid & wiffle bat rules get enforced fanatically.

Faintly Macabre

@olivebee I usually leave my little bottles in the mesh pockets of my toiletry bag and leave the bag wide when I go through security. The last time I flew out of France, though, they made me put all the little bottles in a plastic bag in my unzipped toiletry bag.

Meanwhile, both there and back I had a SwissCard--like a keychain Swiss Army Knife but flat--and its included knife in my wallet, and no one noticed.


@olivebee Oh yeah, I NEVER do the "take out your liquids" thing.


@OhMarie My boyfriend had canned foie gras confiscated as we were coming back from France, because the size was too large? Someone at the TSA store got lucky that day.


@OhMarie I also had a Swiss Army knife taken from me (though a regular one, not keychain). It was very special to me and I left it in my carry-on like a doofus at the Lima airport in Peru last year. I burst into tears and started begging them (in terrible Spanish) to let me take it back and check my bag, mail it to myself, anything, but they just chucked it into the bin. I wandered around sobbing to various people until I finally found this big, sweet security manager who made them give it back to me. Love that guy!

(This all sounds very dramatic, but it really is a special possession of mine.)


I've never had anything confiscated, because I'm a timid, conscientious, bag-checking sort of person.

However, "any blunt object that could pose a threat?" I've boarded planes while carrying umbrellas and body parts that meet that description.


@cuminafterall You were carrying body parts?


@smidge Only my own! I mean really, do you think I'd be silly enough to bring my femur collection on an airplane?


@cuminafterall A timid, conscientious BODY PARTS DEALER


@PatatasBravas Hey, we all gotta make a living.


Once when I was flying out of a tiny regional airport, the TSA guy pulled my corkscrew out of my bag; he then looked over at where my parents were standing on the other side of the gate and said "do you want me to just give this to your mom so she can mail it to you?" Loved that guy.


I think it's hilarious they will confiscate "anything that can be used as a weapon" and yet they continue to let you bring pens and knitting needles on board.

Also: "We've had our share of furry handcuffs," said Thompson, who added that items of this nature are not sold in his store. "We might reuse those for law enforcement, minus the fur."


My dad has one of those big hiking backpacks and uses it to carry his crap to and from conferences. The backpack has an aluminum support thingy - about eighteen inches long, an inch wide, and maybe a few centimeters thick. With a little sharpening it could have been a functional blade. And nobody's ever mentioned it.


I wonder if they resell liquids that are confiscated that are above the 3 ounce limit. I once had a half liter bottle of local blueberry wine confiscated in south carolina because I forgot to put it in my check bag. Meanwhile I always carry knitting with me, including needles and a small pair of foldable scissors that I have never even been asked about (knock on wood).




@Rock and Roll Ken Doll That's what I totally should have done! I wasn't even thinking clearly really because we were already late because their phone boarding pass scanner wasn't working so we had to go back out once already to get paper ones.


Yeah, missing awesome choices that later seem obvious because of feeling under pressure in the moment? Tell me about it.


One time, they tore my mom away from the rest of us and took her entire carry-on for examination with weird chemical detectors and lasers and whatnot, and insistently questioned her, and then had her wait for nigh unto 45 minutes before releasing her. (Good thing she is terrified of flying and we got there like two full hours before boarding, so she could calm herself down! ahahaha)


Apparently soap has glycerin in it, and if you're really clever, you can make it into a bomb; if you're my mom, you just tried to bring a nice bar of scented soap from a charming harbor town you've visited home.

OR SHE'S A TERRORIST! who could possibly tell


@PatatasBravas This happened to me! On a really short layover that we were already worried about! With a friend who works for a pharmaceutical company. We were terrified about the sheer number of chemicals they could possibly find swabbing her purse.


After my grandmother died I claimed a couple of her small end tables because they could be disassembled far enough to fit in my usual carry on on my way home. It did not occur to me, until the TSA agent (quite kindly) pulled me aside and pointed it out, that eight wooden table legs with metal screws pointing out of the top were enough weapons for an entire team of potential highjackers.

I will say everyone was very nice about it though (although I think it was pretty clear that I was still really emotionally raw at the time). They let me go back out to check the bag and United didn't even charge me for it.


I'm in an airport right now with worst hangover I've had in months. I feel like death. Thankfully security was no hassle, I couldn't have handled anything else.


@Decca I just poured olive oil on my chips because I thought it was vinegar.


@Decca someone send help


@Decca Oh no!!! Travel hangovers are the worst. I already hate traveling. I recommend buying and taking some dramamine--I'm not sure if it actually helps but it makes me drowsy.


@OhMarie Thanks. I'm a little wary of taking anything cause I'm travelling by myself and I don't want to become too dopey. I'm fine though, just going to sit here in a corner trembling and eating oily chips waiting for my flight to be called. It is only an hour-long journey in fairness.

The only thing I've ever really had a problem with in airport security was a fake Oscar statuette. The TSA boys took me aside for questioning when they saw that. (???)


@Decca Are you going from the UK to Ireland? Because I had the worst travel vomit experience of my life (cramps and motion sickness on the ferry) and wish never to repeat it ever on that crossing.



@PistolPackinMama Argh that sounds horrendous! Yep, Gatwick to Dublin for me. Can't wait to get home!


Things taken from me include a jar of passionfruit jam that was 0.5 oz over the liquid limit, and a gift lighter for a friend (it looked like a dinosaur and was supposed to flame from the mouth) that didn't have any lighter fluid in it.


I was so cheesed.

Also, question: do you guys know anything about taking plant life on a domestic flight? I foolishly went and bought a friend a little marimo as a gift because they're cute and easy to take care of, but forgot that she has a flight back to Southern California (from the Bay Area) after Christmas. Will they try to take it away from her? I've seen advice that you can put them in a baggie with a little water and transport them that way so it's not a big sloshy jar, but I'm worried about power-tripping TSA folks.


In other news, Friggy's a terrible gift-giver, more at 11:00.

Lisa Frank

@frigwiggin Border control might confiscate it, because you can't bring agricultural products or produce into the country? I've had fruit confiscated at border control. The drug sniffing dogs also sniff out plant life!


@Lisa Frank

But if it's an in-state flight would that be a problem?

Lisa Frank

@frigwiggin Oh! I misread your post. I was on an international flight. I think it's all good on domestic flights!

maxine of arc

@frigwiggin Once when I was putting on my shoes after a security check at Seatac, I sat next to a woman who said "thank god they didn't stop me! I have five pounds of oysters on ice in my bag!" So you know, it'll probably be fine.


Only sunblock, which was apparently okay in my carry-on when I was leaving New York to go to Texas, but was NOT OKAY when flying from Dallas back to New York. Same with toothpaste, which got taken away in Colorado, but once again, not in New York. TSA, Y U no make sense?


@meetapossum At O'Hare my purse got opened so that a dude could inspect my very-full coin purse while completely ignoring the pepper spray I forgot was in there. They're all a mystery to me.


this has happened to me twice. The first time was on a flight back from New Zealand in 2007, right when the liquids thing became an issue, and they confiscated my hydrocortisone cream - the morning after I'd been attacked by bedbugs. I had to spend a 10-hour flight scratching my legs like crazy.

The second time was just a couple of weeks ago, and the pocketknife my brother gave me a few years ago was taken away. It had ended up in my boyfriend's carry-on bag without either of us paying attention while we packed, and I only checked my own for it and then assumed that it was in my checked bag. I cried in security because my brother and I have been on bad terms recently and it's the best gift he's ever given me.


I've never had anything confiscated BUT my dad makes special Thanksgiving pickles and always gives me a jar to take back. Obviously I check it but every time I have a jar of pickles in my checked bag I get a note that my bag has been searched by TSA. I guess pickle jars look like bombs?


They took my 8oz jar of jam from my carryon once, although two months later a friend of mine would fly through that same airline with a bottle of sunscreen in his backpack's water-bottle holder, no problem.

The same flight where they took my jam was the one where the airline fucked up my ticket, so I had to go through security, leave the secured area to go back to the ticket area, and go through security again. I got searched both times, and my flight was delayed two hours anyways- an hour because there were no flights into/out of Honolulu because of Obama flying in (this was just before Christmas in '08) and for another hour because the plane had a flat tire.


@Nutmeg For some reason the idea of the plane having a flat tire is cracking me up! Womp womp, poor plane!


How timely, I'm flying domestically tonight and engaging in some preemptive worry about whether my menorah will get confiscated by the TSA.


I just recently made it through the Phoenix and Las Vegas airports with a corkscrew in my purse. But taking a travel-size container of half used Vaseline through San Jose was cause for a stop and search. And once in Orlando I got stopped for having a suspicious looking burrito. I don't get it.


Things I have had taken from me while flying:

ATL-LGA: expensive Italian tweezers I received as a gift from my grandmother who thought I needed to be grooming myself better
PNR-FRA: cheap CVS tweezers, after the security lady very realistically mimed poking my eyes out with them
CLE-HVN: Junior Mints (!)
DCA-ATL: my Kindle :( (although I straight up forgot it on the airplane, so not really TSA's fault)
GVA-IAD: a sandwich, on arrival, to the APHIS guy at customs, who didn't believe me that there was no meat in it and almost made me late to my grandfather's funeral
MEX-IAD: knitting needles, WITH A HALF-KNIT SWEATER ON THEM, confiscated by Mexican airport security

Things that were not confiscated: full bottle of water, forgotten bottle of foundation, giant switchblade Swiss Army knife at the bottom of my backpack, HUGE SHARP SCISSORS

Oh and one time, the talking Tommy Wiseau bobblehead I was bringing my sister as a gag Christmas present was very enthusiastically inspected by the TSA guy at DCA, who confessed that "The Room" was his favorite movie. So that was fun? TSA: They're Just Like Us!


I was leaving London a little after the Heathrow bomb scare to fly back stateside, and had my chapstick confiscated. MY CHAPSTICK. Not just any chapstick, MY BURT'S BEES CHAPSTICK. A trans-atlantic flight with no lip balm in sight...no, not even after the security checkpoint...Clearly this is still an upsetting episode.


I've never had anything confiscated, but the TSA people do get awfully suspicious if you don't actually have any liquids to put in the little plastic baggie. This one time I was flying home and I didn't have any liquids on me because I'd just run out of lip balm and wasn't then in the habit of carrying anything besides that normally.

Apparently women who don't have a plastic baggie jammed full of stuff ready for inspection are The Most Suspicious Women Ever.

I got them back after that when I accidentally smuggled a gallon-size baggie full of nail polishes through security in my carryon without a second glance.


Just last week, I had to hand over small craft scissors that had already passed through 3 checks because they were under 4 inches long. I really liked those scissors!

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