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
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
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
TSA takes offenses like this seriously. But the agency isn’t above cackling and crowing about finds like this on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
“There’s a personal fowl here…” TSA noted in its Instagram post, adding that “The plot chickens as we barrel our way closer to Thanksgiving.”
The chicken puns didn’t stop there.
Far from it.
TSA said it was thankful its officers “are always working around the cluck to keep you safe” when noting the “hen you believe it?” find at the Fort Lauderdale airport.
“We hate to beak it to you here, but stuffing a firearm in your holiday bird for travel is just a baste of time. This idea wasn’t even half-baked; it was raw, greasy, and obviously unsupervised. The only roast happening there is this poor packing choice.
Feather you like it or not, there are rules for traveling with guns and ammunition. So, don’t wing it; roost over the proper packaging info through the link in our bio.“
Guns in chickens are the least of it
While the gun-in-a-chicken scheme is unusual, TSA officers have a lot of experience spotting guns at Florida airports
Earlier this month the TSA noted that so far this year a record 700 guns had been found at Florida airport checkpoints and nearly every one of these guns was loaded. “Most had ammunition chambered,” TSA said.
Here’s some of the breakdown, as of November 3:
Orlando International Airport (MCO): 129 guns;
Ft. Lauderdale -Hollywood International Airport (FLL): 120 guns:
Tampa International Airport (TPA): 102 guns;
Miami International Airport (MIA): 83 guns;
Jacksonville International Airport (JAX): 58 guns;
Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW): 37 guns;
TSA says in Florida, and in many other states, most passengers found with firearms at the checkpoint are arrested or issued notices to appear in court.
“Passengers face a civil penalty from the TSA that can reach as much as $13,910 and that is imposed regardless of whether the individual is arrested by our law enforcement partners,” TSA reminds travelers. And “If the traveler is in the TSA PreCheck program, those privileges will be lost for a period of time, possibly permanently.”
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. As of mid-September 2022, more than 4,600 guns had been found. And given the uptick in firearm ‘finds’ the TSA has been reporting around the country, it’s a good bet that the tally will break a record again this year.
Or, depending on local laws, TSA may just tell you to (properly) put the gun in checked luggage. Or leave it behind.
But we’re headed for trouble. Last week TSA reported that in the first 6 months of 2022, TSA officers have already found more than 3,000 guns at checkpoints around the country.
That’s an average of 17 guns per day. And at this pace, TSA will surpass the previous record of 5,972 guns found at airport checkpoints in one year. That record was set in 2021, a year when far fewer people were traveling.
A hat tip to “Three Shots McGee” for sharing a story about what happens in Australia when someone is found with a loaded gun in their carry-on. As he says, having a passenger show up at an airport checkpoint with a loaded gun is an “Aussie airport event that almost never happens.”
But the passenger, an American, had an American excuse:
“The man claimed he had forgotten the weapon was in his luggage but this situation could have had deadly consequences for other travelers, even if it had discharged accidentally during the flight,” said Det. A/Supt. Sykes.
Meanwhile, in the United States, TSA officers found 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2021. That is a significant increase from the 3,257 firearms found in carry-ons in 2020 when travel was down due to the pandemic. But it’s a serious spike over the 4,432 firearms found at airport checkpoints in 2019, pre-pandemic.
One of the most common excuses people give TSA officers is “Oops, I forgot that was in there.”
In the U.S., some people face fines and criminal charges when found with guns in their carry-ons. But in many cities and in many states, due to local laws all TSA can do is tell people to put the gun back in their car, put it in their checked bag, or give it to someone (ideally, someone they know…) to take home.