Nominations for TSA’s Top Ten Catches of 2023

It’s been just a few weeks since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released its Top Ten Finds of 2022. And we already have news of some items found at airport checkpoints that might appear in the 2023 reel.

Snakes on a Plane. Almost

The Game of the Sociable Snake, c. 1890

This didn’t show up in TSA’s Top Ten Catches of 2022. But it should have.

A woman flying out of Tampa International Airport (TPA) had a boa constrictor in her carry-on bag.

The woman claimed that Bartholomew the boa was her emotional support pet, the TSA reports. But that story – and the boa – didn’t fly.

Replica Sniper Rifle Kit

Courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY

Firearms aren’t allowed in airplane cabins or in carry-on bags. Yet, passengers try to take them onboard all the time. In 2022, TSA found more than 6,000 firearms at airport checkpoints. And most of those firearms were loaded.

Toy guns are also on TSA’s no-fly list. That includes this replica sniper rifle kit discovered in a carry-on bag this week at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) in New Hampshire.

In case you missed it, here’s TSA’s Top Ten Catches of 2022

Guns in Peanut Butter & Inside a Raw Chicken: TSA’s Top 10 Catches from 2022

Officers for the Transportation Security Administration see a lot of stuff in the carry-on bags of passengers. Some of it is just fine for people to take on the plane with them. Other items, such as baseball bats, meat cleavers, and even Magic 8 balls, falls on the prohibited items.

So do knives, guns, and other items that are clearly weapons. Yet people try to sneak that stuff by all the time. In fact, even before the end of December, TSA found a record 6301 firearms in carry-on bags at airports. More than 88% of those firearms were loaded.

Some travelers forget they have a knife, gun, or some other prohibited item in their bag. Others know exactly what they’ve packed and go to creative lengths to try to get prohibited items past the checkpoint undetected.

The most outrageous items end up on the annual list of TSA’s Top 10 Catches.

This year, the list has some whoppers, including a gun found stuffed inside a raw chicken at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), gun parts inside a peanut butter jar at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and a knife inside a laptop at Richmond International Airport (RIC).

Here’s the full 2022 list, in a corny video put together by TSA.

The agency has been doing this year-end round-up for a while. And our favorites are still the early ones hosted by the late Blogger Bob” Burns. We’ve included his 2016 round-up below.

TSA’s first airport checkpoint turns 20

Then: the first TSA Checkpoint was a BWI. Photo courtesy TSA

It feels as if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has always been in charge of security at airports.

But TSA was created in November 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

And, beginning on April 30, 2002, Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) became the very first airport in the nation to be ‘federalized.’ It became the first airport to have security screening taken over by the newly formed agency.

BWI and TSA officials marked that anniversary on Friday at the airport and shared background on what was happening at the time.

“The ‘TSA Start-Up Team’ at BWI built a ‘War Room’ on the lower level of C Concourse and began testing new screening methods, checkpoint designs, standard operating procedures, and more,” TSA said in a statement. “The team’s main tasks were to establish the new agency and its security mission and write policies and procedures that adhered to the requirements of the law that created TSA. They were to build a fully federalized workforce of security screening officers to replace private contract screeners.”

Many of the early Transportation Security Officers trained at BWI before they were deployed across the country.

Today there are 430 federalized airports and 64,000 TSA employees nationwide.

TSA Checkpoint at BWI now. Photos courtesy TSA

Traveling? You’ll still need to wear a face mask

Yes, COVID rates are falling in most places. And yes, communities everywhere are lifting their face mask requirements. But the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to buck the trend. TSA will keep the face mask requirement for travel on public transportation in place for at least another month after the planned March 18 expiration.

Here’s the agency’s statement:

At CDC’s recommendation, TSA will extend the security directive for mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for one month, through April 18th.

During that time, CDC will work with government agencies to help inform a revised policy framework for when, and under what circumstances, masks should be required in the public transportation corridor. This revised framework will be based on the COVID-19 community levels, risk of new variants, national data, and the latest science. We will communicate any updates publicly if and/or when they change.