Donate

Newark & LaGuardia Airports Make TSA's Top 10 List Of Strangest Contraband Finds

The skyline of New York City as seen from Newark Liberty International Airport. Photo by Ken Lund.
Dashed Arrow
The skyline of New York City as seen from Newark Liberty International Airport. Photo by Ken Lund. Creative Commons

It's that time of year again: The Transportation Security Administration has unveiled their list detailing the weirdest things people have tried to bring aboard airplanes in 2018. And if you think people would have more common sense than to fly with, say, a sickle or a a live python in their luggage, then you must not be very familiar with the TSA's enthralling Instagram account.

A TSA spokesperson told Gothamist that the agency doesn't have a "specific scientific method" to cull the list—just that their social media team gathers that year's photos and picks what they consider to be the most unusual finds from that year. That said, two New York City-area airports bear the strange distinction of being in the top ten list for 2018, thanks to passengers trying to get through with truly questionable pieces of contraband.

One item, which came in at number four on the list, was found at Newark Liberty International Airport. In August, a passenger checked what appeared to be two hand grenades in their bag. That's strange in itself, but get this: the grenades were dressed up, wearing the equivalent of tuxedo t-shirts. According to a TSA press release, they were "inert grenade-like novelty bottle openers"

View this post on Instagram

We know it didn’t go down this way, but we’d like to imagine that the groom lobbed these inert well-dressed grenades over his shoulder to his groomsmen, just as bouquets are tossed to bridesmaids. We could see a conversation going something like this. … Chad: “I was so close to catching one, bruh.” … Randy: “Whatever, Chad! Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Oh wait…” … Randy & Chad: “Hahahahaha! Bruh…” … OK, back to the real world. These dapper inert grenades were wedding gifts for groomsmen. They were discovered in a checked bag at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). … When our officers spot a potential explosive on the monitor, they cannot just open the bag and take a looksee to find out if it’s real or not. A TSA explosives specialist or a police department bomb squad must respond before the bag is ever opened. This can lead to costly evacuations, delays, and missed flights. These types of items can also lead to hefty fines and arrest. Contact your preferred shipper about your options, because they can’t travel via commercial aircraft. So even though they aren’t real, they can cause a lot of headaches.

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on

Meanwhile, LaGuardia Airport clocked in at number six on the list—for the time TSA found a full-on kitchen carving knife "artfully concealed in the lining of [a] baby carrier." Said traveler went through security with a baby in the carrier, where TSA found it. "It could be that the baby took it from the kitchen drawer and folded it up into the bottom of the baby carrier," the TSA cheekily notes in the release. "Or it could be that an adult did it. Your guess is as good as ours."

21219babyseat.jpg
Where the knife was concealed inside the baby seat. (Handout)

The TSA wasn't always this much fun. It wasn't until 2013 that the TSA found a nascent social media star in Curtis "Blogger Bob" Burns, an employee with irreverent dad humor who posted curious findings from all around the U.S. on the agency's Instagram account (They won three Webby Awards in 2018). Sadly, Burns passed away in October 2018. The TSA tells us that several people on the social media team are currently the voice of the Instagram account, though "nobody can replace Bob Burns."

Featured in News