Penguins pass through TSA, scanner, customs

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Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers don’t have the easiest job — it requires a keen eye to keep the wrong things from getting through. On top of all this, airports have been known to bring out the absolute worst in us travelers. To lighten the mood, the TSA routinely posts their most ridiculous catches on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. Let’s take a look.

Scorpion and cobra rice wine

Careful, this drink’s got a bite! This passenger at Ontario International Airport checked a bottle of rice wine with a couple of extra ingredients. While you can’t take large quantities of liquid with you on the flight, you are still able to check most beverages. What was inside, however, gave the TSA workers pause.

Rice wine, scorpion, cobra, TSARice wine, scorpion, cobra, TSA
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In the end, the workers let it fly — neither the scorpion nor the snake were on the endangered species list. So, if creepy-crawly cocktails and spirits are your thing, you should be fine to fly with them — no problem. Hey, the more you know …


You may be Negan, but you’re still not allowed to take a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire with you on a plane — as this disappointed fan of The Walking Dead found out. Even if it is just a replica with rubber barbed wire, toss it in your checked bag.

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While it’s easy to tell these items are fake when you’re looking directly at them, it gets a bit tricky when you’re looking at them through an X-ray machine. Don’t make it harder on the TSA agents, they have it rough enough already. Plus, you may end up holding up the line for other passengers.

21st birthday cake

A traveler tweeted this question to TSA, inquiring about the flyability of a very special birthday cake. This tower isn’t edible, but it is drinkable — and like a regular birthday cake, overconsumption will make you sick. What do you think, will TSA let it fly?

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The answer is yes! As long as you check the bag it’s packed in. 3.4 ounces of liquid is the maximum cutoff for a bottle you take with you on a plane (you can take as many as you want). However, you’re strictly prohibited from drinking your own alcohol midflight. Good to know this 21-year-old was able to celebrate her birthday the way her older brother intended.

Lobsters can fly!

TSA agents in New England airports are probably used to this sight by now. A checked baggage alarm required this worker to temporarily free this snappy creature from its luggage cage. The giant crustacean is OK to travel in both checked and carry-on bags.

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However, before you pack up your lobster or crab, check with your airline to make sure you’re following the correct packing procedures — you do not want your dinner escaping and pinching any unsuspecting travelers or flight staff. Imagine seeing a live crustacean wreaking havoc in the airport, scuttling down the baggage carousel while avoiding luggage sliding down the chute.

Don’t be a tool

Where the hoes at? Not in the cabin. If you plan on taking your gardening tools with you to your destination, they’ll have to ride down below with the rest of the checked baggage. It might seem like a little bit of an overstep, but the spikes on this hoe could definitely do some damage in the wrong hands.

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Generally, if you have to question whether you can take something with you on a plane, it’s better just to err on the side of caution and check the item in question. If you’re unsure whether you can even take the item at all, you can always @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t be the guy that holds up the line.

Exotic birds

What was this person thinking? These two birds were discovered during a pat-down — the woman had stuffed the poor parrots in socks and taped the socks to her leg and chest. The woman was promptly arrested on suspicion of smuggling an endangered species.

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Though his or her feathers look a bit ruffled and they likely had plenty to squawk about, it seems like the birds were unharmed. Trading an endangered species is a serious crime — one that multiple countries have teamed up in an attempt to curb. Smuggling and trading these creatures threatens the survival of the species in question.


Taking this item on the plane isn’t a crime, but perhaps the pun should be. Just kidding, that’s nun of our concern. Most fake or replica weapons are not allowed in your carry-on bags, but this one is an exception.

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Perhaps the TSA thinks they’re too small to do any real damage to fellow travelers. Just make sure you don’t start swinging them around at other passengers and the flight crew, but we shouldn’t have to tell you that. If you’re unsure whether you can take something on your flight, ask the TSA before you get to the airport — it’s a good habit to get into.


New Yorkers and Chicagoans love to complain about the lack of good pizza outside their respective hometowns. If you count yourself among this class, have no fear — pies can fly, checked or as a carry-on — as long as you can resist scarfing it down at the gate.

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Food in general is mostly allowed on flights. However, the TSA does stipulate that your food must pass through the X-ray machine — it is uncommon, but sometimes people try to hide contraband by stuffing it inside their food. Keep your food wrapped or packaged until you’re ready to eat it.


Even though these swords look centuries old, they’re still a no-go when it comes to carrying them on a flight. These were discovered in a guitar case someone was trying to take on a plane. It’s hard to tell whether this person was being sneaky or they simply didn’t know they weren’t allowed.

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It’s also hard to imagine someone thinking they’d get this through an X-ray machine. If you want to travel with anything that even resembles a weapon, make sure you check with TSA first. Most likely, you’ll be able to take it — it may just have to ride with the checked baggage.

Morning star/flail

This item will undoubtedly look familiar to you, although some medieval historians contend that this weapon is pure fantasy. Indeed, the weapon seems clunky and unnecessarily dangerous to the person wielding it. The chain is an obvious weak point in the design — it’s prone to snapping under the crushing weight of a battle-ax or wrapping itself around the wrong thing, effectively rendering it useless.

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Counterpoint: It looks pretty cool. Be that as it may, you still can’t take it with you on a plane — even if the ball is made of rubber. Keep in mind, through the X-ray scanner it’s difficult to tell a toy from a real weapon. This will lead to the item being confiscated, annoying delays, and icy glares from fellow travelers.

Pole vault poles

You can use pole vault poles to fly through the air, and apparently they can fly as well. However, it does take a bit of planning — you’ll have to call ahead to clear any oversize baggage with your airline before you show up to the airport.

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It probably goes without saying, but any oversize items like these will need to be checked. Waiting in line at the airport is bad enough without a 10-foot-pole smacking you in the side of the head and poking you in the chest, even if the thought of vaulting yourself to the front of the line sounds tempting.

Flaming book prop

This book might make for a funny prank or magician’s trick, but it’ll also make for some upset travelers and TSA agents if you try to pass it through a security line. Beyond the danger of keeping an object intended to burst into flames on a plane, it also looks suspiciously like an improvised explosive device when going through an X-ray scanner.

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Unless it’s something obvious like a phone charger or a laptop, things with wires, buttons, and batteries are generally a no-go. If you’re unsure about a specific item, don’t hesitate to check with the airline or contact the TSA directly.


It may be an old weapon, but it’s still a weapon. This ornate weapon didn’t make it through security as a carry-on. You can typically check items like this, but you should be cautious and double-check before you try to take a weapon (however ancient) across the country or world.

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Hopefully this beautiful artifact or replica made it to its destination somehow — it’d be a shame to have to abandon it in the airport — especially when the loss could have been easily avoided by simply checking the luggage. What do you think, is the TSA being a little overzealous here?

No man or beast is exempt from the line at TSA checkpoints

Who told you penguins can’t fly? They may be flightless birds, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take flight other ways. Penny and Pete the penguins passed through customs without a hitch. They didn’t even have any shoes they needed to take off as they walked through the scanners. Clearly, they had no problem keeping their cool through the long lines and busy airport traffic.

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Make sure you do your research on what you can and can’t bring on the plane so when it comes time to go through customs, you can slide through easily, just like Penny and Pete did at the San Antonio International Airport.

Gladiator mask

Are you not entertained? If you’ve got a flight to Rome, don’t fret — you can take your shiny, metal gladiator helmet on the flight. Just remember to check the baggage or you will be doomed to leave it behind. Make sure you stay safe in the Colosseum.

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It’s a little unclear as to why you can’t take this helmet in your carry-on bag. It’s a helmet, not a weapon, after all. Perhaps it’s the spikes on top — charging headfirst into first class while wearing that thing would be sure to cause some alarm. Further proof that it pays to ask before you take something on a flight.

Cow horn

Nothing like toasting your victories by raising your glass — I mean horn. But can you take it with you on a plane? The answer is … (drumroll please) … Yes! A cow horn is even permitted in your carry-on bag. This way you can wash down your Dramamine in style as your plane navigates the runway.

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Drinking horns are most commonly associated with the Vikings, but the history of these drinking vessels predates the Viking age. The Scythians and Thracians, both nomadic Eurasian tribes from the 5th and 6th century B.C., were fond of using them to quench their thirst, primarily during ceremonies. If you’re a modern-day nomad, don’t hesitate to take your ceremonial drinking horn with you on your next adventure!

Gold grill

We know that artificial limbs and plates can cause a minor inconvenience when you pass through metal detectors at the airport, but what about your gold grill? The TSA allows you to bring it with you, but suggests you don’t wear it when you pass through the scanners.

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If I were to own a grill (I don’t), I think I’d pack it with my toiletries — at least until I passed through the security checkpoint. That way, you won’t have to pull it out of your mouth if it sets off the metal detectors and have to pass through again.

Alligator head

Get me to my flight, and make it snappy! Ever wonder if you can pass a TSA security checkpoint with an alligator head in your carry-on luggage? No? Um, well, me neither. However, it seems that it’s perfectly fine, though you might give the agent watching the bags pass through the X-ray machine a bit of a jolt.

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Look at the gator here, he looks happy knowing he’ll be able to reach his destination safe and sound. Well, maybe not safe and sound literally (he is just a head after all). Nevertheless, this traveler can rest easy knowing they got to their boarding gate without a hitch. Time to chomp down some food and wait for the call to boarding.

Feeling buzzed

Boy that would sure sting if you had to leave your bee collection behind. So what’s the verdict? Can bees fly (on a plane)? The answer is … maybe? Evidently, the TSA didn’t want to open this can of … bees, and decided to defer to the airline after a Twitter user asked them if she could bring her grandma’s bees with her on a flight.

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Personally, I’m a little torn on this one. It seems like as long as they’re securely kept in the container, it shouldn’t be a problem, despite maybe a small buzzing sound drowning out the white noise of the aircraft. However, can you imagine popping open the overhead compartment at the end of a long flight and being greeted by a face full of angry bees? No thanks.

Sketchy notebook

This notebook is in fact harmless — and in truth it does not look too scary either. But in the X-ray machine, it’s another story. This item was flagged by TSA as it passed through the scanners since it loosely resembles an improvised explosive device.

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While this was just a DIY project, and the person it belonged to meant no harm, the TSA always has to err on the side of caution. In some cases, they may even have to call in a bomb squad, which (obviously) causes a considerable holdup. Double- and triple-check your bags for stuff like this.

Bow and shovel

A bad guy would probably have a hard time trying to harm someone on an airplane with a bow and arrow — truth be told, the shovel might be more effective. Both — it turns out — cannot be brought with you through the security line.

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While you may have some targets to shoot and some gardening to do the moment you get off the plane, it’s better that you patiently wait for the baggage carousel. It takes a little longer, but it’s the only option you have — there’s no way you’re getting on a plane with these items in a carry-on bag.

Car headlights are fine

Ever find the perfect car headlight on sale while you are on vacation, only to pass on a good deal because you’re not sure if you will be able to get it through TSA? No? Well, if this hypothetical situation ever comes to pass, have no fear — you can take your headlight with you in your checked or carry-on luggage.

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A Twitter user tweeted this question to the @AskTSA Twitter account before showing up with the item, and got approval before arriving at the airport — a smart move for any traveler that doesn’t want to be disappointed at the gate.

Grenade truck hitch

The TSA doesn’t play around — anything even resembling a bomb is a no-go — whether it’s in your carry-on or your checked baggage. Though this fake grenade/truck hitch may be harmless, it certainly looks suspicious when it passes through security checkpoints.

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When these items are detected, oftentimes the TSA has to call in the bomb squad and the police. This can cause terrible delays which lead to missed flights and annoyed travelers and agents. If you want to take your grenade truck hitch or similar item to your destination, you’re better off shipping it some other way. It’s not getting on a plane.


Well, they allowed an alligator head in your carry-on bag, surely they’ll let you take your deer antlers on the flight, right? Well, maybe. A Twitter user posed the question to the @AskTSA Twitter account and their answer seemed a little less than certain.

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They suggested you keep it with your checked baggage. Perhaps it’s pointy enough to scare other passengers on a flight? You might as well not take the risk when you show up to the airport — pack your antlers in your checked baggage so you don’t have to argue your case to the TSA when you pass through the checkpoint.

Scary gas mask

This item looks like it would fit in as a prop on one of the Mad Max films. But you know where it doesn’t belong? On a flight. While a plain old gas mask is perfectly fine to bring in your carry-on, anything with bullets (even fake ones) is strictly forbidden. As to whether you can bring it with your checked luggage, you’d have to ask the TSA.

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It’s a bummer if this person had to leave this mask/prop behind, since it looks like someone spent a lot of time designing it. It’s a stark reminder that if your item is even remotely questionable, you’re better off inquiring whether it’s OK to bring it with you before you get to the airport.

Bear spray

Here’s another one that belongs in the “What were they thinking?” category. Perhaps someone was returning from a camping trip and simply forgot this was in their bag. It goes without saying the harm this could cause if it were to be sprayed on a flight.

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However, you are allowed to take similar items in your checked luggage, as long as it holds less than 4 ounces, and has less than a 2% active ingredient. Most Mace products pass these limits. It’s probably a good idea to leave the Mace behind when you travel — if your Mace is too strong, you’ll enrage the TSA, and if it’s too weak, you may enrage any bear you happen to come across.

Dragon Balls

Goku and company didn’t scour the universe for the seven Dragon Balls just to be turned away at a TSA security checkpoint! Apparently, the TSA concurs, and this passenger is allowed to take the seven mystical Dragon Balls with him on the flight — better hope he won’t call forth the dragon to make a wish midflight.

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It would be a bit odd if they didn’t allow you to take this on the plane — they don’t look threatening or harmful, nor are they. Still, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and set your mind at ease before you get to the airport.

Plastic battle-ax

If you want to take your spongy battle-ax with you to an out-of-state mock medieval battle, you’ll have to pack it in your checked bag. Even if it’s nearly harmless, any replicas or moderately authentic-looking weapons can’t go in carry-on bags.

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It is hard to imagine anyone feeling threatened by the Nerf-ish-looking toy pictured above, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Any time you have any question about whether something will be allowed on a flight, be sure to ask the TSA or your airline. You wouldn’t want to show up to an ax battle without an ax.

Sneaky umbrella

It’s just a simple umbrella, there’s no way TSA would have a problem with someone taking this on a flight, right? Wrong. Look closely at the handle — it’s got a weapon at the bottom. Although these “brass” knuckles are more likely to break on impact than do any real damage, they still count as a replica weapon.

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The man or woman that tried to take this through must have been pretty disappointed, especially if it was raining when they got off the plane (or if there were bad guys to fight). Unfortunately, this item can’t be taken in your carry-on bag. Though it may be a novelty item, you’ll still have to pack it with your checked luggage.


They may not be able to fly anymore — because they’re dead — but they can still fly with you on a plane. They can travel as a carry-on or with your checked luggage. However you prefer — they won’t mind, and neither will the TSA.

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Don’t worry about bugging TSA, you can ask them whatever you want on Facebook or Twitter, as this recent traveler did. It pays to have peace of mind before you get to the airport — any way you can reduce stress while traveling is a definite win. Not to mention how bad it is if you have to throw something away.

Hairbrush Dagger

This is honestly just a weird thing to have. It’s hard to know whether this item’s intended use is self-defense, part of a costume, or a planned weapon, but it is definitely a dagger…concealed inside a hairbrush. People sure come up with some crazy ideas!

Despite the clever concealment, hairbrush daggers are not allowed in your carry-on bags. You may be a spy (or just play one on TV) but the TSA are not going to let you bring your handy dandy hairbrush dagger onboard the plane.

Mary Jane’s Shampoo

Despite the fact that some states have begun legalizing weed after many years of promises, marijuana is still illegal federally. Since the TSA are a federal organization, you cannot have anything containing more than 0.3% THC in your carry-on or checked bags. Having said that, the TSA doesn’t go out of their way to look for your weed stash, but if they find it, they are required to confiscate it.

To be blunt, we suggest lighting up before you get to the airport if you want to calm those pre-flight jitters…of going through security with something you could get into trouble for.

A Fungus Among Us

Some fun guy from Vermont tried to bring his cute foraging tool onboard, only to learn that mushrooms just aren’t the way. Especially when they have sharp knives inside them! It was likely a mistake on his part, but even if your knife is small and cute, TSA still won’t allow you to bring it in your carry-on bags.

We’re not saying you can’t go foraging now that spring has sprung. But we are saying that you need to check your tools while you fly.

TNT, Dynamite!

Sorry AC/DC fans, but your fan gear will have to take a backseat while we remain thunderstruck that anyone would try and bring these aboard an airplane. Bottled bath salts made to look like dynamite – what will they think of next?

Remember, it may be obvious when you look at them that this is just some novelty pckging, but the TSA agent is viewing them through an X-ray machine. Things aren’t so clear cut when you’re watching in black and white with tons of things in a single bag. These bottles caused a full evacuation and visit from the bomb squad, so leave it at home next time!

Lipstick Stun Gun

You might look magnificent in this shade of purple, but make sure you’re packing actual lipstick in your carry-on bag or purse and not a super tiny stun gun. The ingenius packaging is impressively stealthy, but it won’t fool an X-ray machine nor the TSA agents manning them.

As the TSA clarified on their Instagram, stun guns are not allowed in carry-on bags, whether they’re a lovely color or not. Some airlines don’t allow stun guns in checked bags either, so do your research before hopping on a flight or you’re in for a real shock.

Jesus Knife!

We think we can all agree that did not die on the cross to be used like this. Another item in the grander category of “why does this even exist?”, this Jesus knife was confiscated when someone tried to take their religious reflections onboard a plane. The TSA has no problem with people kneeling in the air, but you definitely don’t need a sharp edge to do it.

The TSA agent who confiscated this item likely said “Good Lord!” when he or she found it, but there wasn’t a chance in Hell that a knife was going to make it on the plane – no matter what iconography it featured.

Baby Shark

Taking live animals on the airplane may be a hairy proposition, but this passenger tried to bring a marine animal onboard. We understand why they didn’t want to check this adorable fish, but TSA regulations state that you can only carry-on liquid containers with 3.4 ounces or less.

For many animals, that’s not enough to stay healthy and bringing animals on board may have certain restrictions depending on where you’re coming from and your destination, so always check before you try and bring any cute…or terrifying…critters to fly with you.

A Nightmare At TSA

That’s right, you’d think that people would have learned their lesson about bringing sharp objects on board, but Freddy Kreuger obviously missed that memo. He tried to sneak his handful of claws through airport security in a carry-on bag, but you don’t have to worry; no one at the TSA is falling asleep on the job.

The claws were confiscated and presumably, Mr. Kreuger properly chastised for trying to slip on the plane with such obvious security no-nos. Whether he took the warning to heart…well, that’s up to Wes Craven.

Oh My Stars!

If you’ve been contemplating practicing your throwing star abilities when you fly, we advise against it. Can’t bear to be parted from your ninja stars? Sure you can! Just wrap them carefully and put them in your checked bags so you don’t end up like a passenger from Milwaukee who tried to bring their stars in their carry-on baggage.

We may have run out of clever puns for ninja stars, but they are sharp, dangerous objects that have no place in the cabin of an airplane. Don’t get stopped for having one of these in your purse.