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Offbeat

Dead Chickens, Live Cats, Sex Toys and Human Skulls: Airport Screeners Confess their “Weirdest” Discoveries

Dead Chickens, Live Cats, Sex Toys and Human Skulls: Airport Screeners Confess their “Weirdest” Discoveries
Jeff Edwards

A user posed the “AskReddit” question to airport security screeners, “What is the weirdest thing you have seen inside passengers’ luggage?” The responses ranged from the funny to the macabre and included everything from misunderstandings to failed smuggling attempts (along with some surprising indications of seriously dangerous passenger behavior).

Perhaps the greatest benefit of today’s proliferation of social media is the unique opportunity it affords us to glimpse behind the curtain at the lives of complete strangers. Twitter users now know exactly how misogynistic life in Silicon Valley can be, Facebook friends are now aware of the many things that annoy their bartender, and Redittors have made an art of learning the secrets of all manner of tradesmen, retail workers and professionals through its AskReddit community.

When a registered member posed to query to airport security screeners active on the site, “What is the weirdest thing you have seen inside passengers’ luggage?” – the answers might have us wishing the question had never been asked at all. While some of the responses were good for a chuckle, others are sure to raise goosebumps on even the most jaded of readers.

Many of the firsthand accounts involve investigating a suspicious item only to find it was a sex toy of some sort. Dildos, vibrators, replica vaginas and fake butts all made the list – along with handcuffs and a “liquor store porn collection.” Of course, in most cases, none of these items are prohibited in carry-on bags, so screeners were in the uncomfortable position of having to return the very private items to the passenger and wish them a safe trip.

Amusingly, passengers who, for some reason, didn’t know that food is allowed past airport security checkpoints are the ones who appear to have come up with the most convoluted ways to sneak items past screeners. There is the tale of the woman who attempted to smuggle a rotisserie chicken under her shirt claiming she was pregnant and the inexplicable story of the woman who tried to slip two fast-food breakfast sandwiches through the body scan by hiding them in her armpits.

Some answers took a turn towards the macabre – an incident in which an airport screener claims to have found a human skull in a passenger’s bag was soon topped by a report of a flyer with an entire skeleton in their luggage. Other strange stories included the discovery of a dead chicken, live cats and an array of dead (and decomposing) sea life.

There were, of course, incidents that are more troubling than amusing. The thread contained accounts of passengers flying with knife collections, military weapons and antique sabers. Other times, everyday items such as sand, computer components or a pressure cooker were confused with dangerous devices leading to tense moments, but ultimately no discernible threat.

Although the collection of anecdotes from airport security insiders isn’t likely to make us feel any safer at the airport, it might just help to shrug off the next lecture from a TSA agent about forgetting the water bottle in a briefcase – after all, there are much more embarrassing items to be caught with while in line at the airport X-ray machine.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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