"The Security Lady Turned Bright Red": 23 People Are Calling Out The TSA Agents Who Made Horrible Judgment Calls When It Came To Their Luggage

·12 min read

Traveling by plane can sometimes be an incredibly stressful experience because of flight delays or cancellations, long TSA lines, or rude airplane passengers.

HBO / Via giphy.com

However, if there's one thing that can make an airport experience even more taxing, it's being stopped by the TSA.

CBS / Via giphy.com

And since this happens quite often, Reddit user u/False_Philosophy_412 asked: "What’s the weirdest reason you were stopped by TSA?" And the responses ranged from downright hilarious to upsetting. So we rounded up some of the weirdest ones for you to read below.

1."I had a nutcracker in my carry-on. Like a legit, festive Christmas soldier nutcracker — it was a gift for my mom's birthday (she collects them). I was only flying in for two days for my grandma's funeral, so I didn't check any luggage. TSA stopped me and questioned me for 30 minutes. They kept insinuating I was going to use it as a weapon."

A shelf full of nutcrackers
Oscar Wong / Via Getty Images

2."So there I was in the airport security line to fly out of an Islamic country. There's a man and woman security guard waving people through the metal detector. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. The fuck? I'm a pro-traveler; I know how to empty my pockets, belt, watch, etc. They said, 'Sir, are you wearing safety shoes?' (He's asking if I have steel-toe shoes.) I said, 'No' and started patting my cargo short pockets wondering what it could be. Oh, no. I pulled out a mega strip of 20 aluminum-wrapped condoms that I bought because they were awesome and I couldn't get them in my home country. They weren't in the box because I bought them while walking around a couple days before and wanted it to take less space in my pockets."

"I completely forgot they were even there. The security lady turns bright red and busts out laughing. The security dude didn't miss a beat: He looked me dead in the eye with a huge smile and gave me a thumbs-up and exclaimed, 'Very good for safety!!' And waves me through."


3."'Crotch anomaly.' I was wearing normal joggers, nothing in my pockets. The lady behind me loudly said, 'Yeah, it's called a dick.'"


4."My then-2-month-old was flagged by TSA in 2003. They took one look and realized the only bomb was in his diaper."

A baby lying on its stomach
Polina Strelkova / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

5."Not in the US, but in France, I got stopped on the way through customs by an agent who said something fast and aggressive-sounding in French. My French isn't great, so I just looked puzzled and said, 'I didn't understand.' The guy quickly beckoned another guy over and explained to him in rapid-fire French what was going on. The second guy turned to me and said, 'He says your T-shirt is really cool and can you tell him where you got it?' It was a Star Wars T-shirt that I got as a birthday present, so I couldn't even tell him where it came from. Luckily, he didn't arrest me."


6."When I was a kid, I had a broken arm, and they needed to inspect my cast by cutting a piece off of it and putting it in some sort of machine."


7."I had packed glass dildos in my hand luggage (gifts for a friend). A TSA dude fished them out very publicly and asked, 'WHOSE CASE IS THIS?' and 'WHAT ARE THESE?' Then he realized he was double-wielding two phallic-looking dildos and got very quiet because he realized people were staring at him. 'THEY ARE DILDOS,' I said in a very loud voice. The guy made a shushing motion with his hand and, totally flustered, tried to shush me with a quiet, 'But what for?' I said, 'THE PURPOSE OF A DILDO IS TO BE LUBRICATED AND INSERTED INTO A VAGINA AND/OR ANUS FOR SEXUALLY STIMULATING THE RECIPI...' 'THANK YOU, SIR. ON YOUR WAY — NEXT!'"


8."TSA pulled me aside after my backpack went through the scanner. I was just sitting there while they searched every pocket four times, running it back through the scanner in between each one. Every time they didn’t find anything, they’d bring more people over. At that point, I was starting to get nervous and asked what they were looking for. Guy number five who was searching my bag looked at me and said super accusingly, 'We’re looking for the butterfly knife you have hidden in there,' to which I just laughed since butterfly knives are for edgy 14-year-olds. I insisted I didn’t have one, but they didn’t believe me. Eventually, they found the 'knife.' it was an old mini-stapler that I had forgotten in there from when I was in school. They seemed embarrassed enough that I just left before they could come up with an excuse to take it out on me."

A container of items going through the X-ray machine
Jaromir Chalabala / Via Getty Images/EyeEm

9."They thought a massage gun was an actual handgun. I was detained for two hours while they looked up the device in the internet to verify it wasn't a weapon. In reality, they forgot they'd detained me. I missed my flight, and their supervisor made me an offer. I accept their apology, and they'd pay to upgrade me to first-class on my rescheduled flight."


10."A glass jellyfish. Like those blown glass ones that are super cool at art galleries. I got pulled aside into a small room because they thought I was smuggling sea life. It was an interesting time."


11."My niece has a teddy bear. She's had this teddy bear essentially since she was born. Their dog has bitten a hole into its belly, so we sewed onto it like a lion head sticker to keep its guts inside. One time we were on holiday visiting family, and she left it there — luckily, I was staying a bit longer so I could grab it on my way back. An adult man with a teddy bear that had its guts torn open and fixed with a lion Band-Aid apparently looks pretty suspicious, so when I was at the airport, TSA shoved the poor guy into X-ray three to four times. My niece is still in ownership of the teddy bear, and it is still in decent shape."

A young girl holding her teddy bear
Stockplanets / Via Getty Images

12."I have bad knees and occasionally bring a cane with me when I travel. I have one called a hurry-cane (it's basically a full-size cane that folds into three for easy packing). TSA required me to still walk through without the cane if possible, so I had folded it up and laid it on my checked luggage for the X-ray. This obviously new TSA agent pulled me aside to wait for a supervisor because he said that he is familiar with it and it was a kind of weapon that his character uses in a video game. He was convinced I was trying to hide it as a cane, but that I was openly carrying a Chinese martial arts weapon. It took all of two seconds once the supervisor connected the cane to make the kid realize he was wrong. The situation had me chuckling."


13."I had an abscess removed from my chest and had a bandage. TSA stopped me after the X-ray, made me disrobe in public, then poked the bandage so hard I started bleeding and the wound reopened. It happened in Texas. I got a call two days later saying it was a supervisor who had reviewed the footage and asked me if I would be willing to not SUE (just went to an urgent care center to have wound repacked, had not reached out to TSA — creepy!). And I was like, whatever. She said there was footage they had reviewed, which was concerning, and the agent who had brusquely examined me in public was being put on leave. OK. I was very cool about it and signed the document, but now I realize I had a hell of a case."


14."One time my dad had a few rocks of petrified wood in a bag, and had his phone charger right next to it. They almost went DEFCON 1 and radio people to show up and act if it went down. But they opened the bag and saw it was rocks and a charger. They told him that it looked absolutely identical to what they had been taught a bomb looked like."

Small rocks outside
Alexandr Yakovlev / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto

15."When Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man first came out, they did some amazing merchandise for them. My stepdad is a HUGE Spidey fan, so I picked him up the corniest Spider-Man film merchandise when I was in the US. One of them being a whirling cement truck thing? It was a big Tonka-sized thing, and the only bag it would fit into was my carry-on. TSA stopped me and said, 'Is that a Spider-Man toy?' and I took it out and showed them. They said it was the best thing they'd seen all day."


16."I got pulled to the side at Fort Myers airport. One TSA guy with gloves, two TSA guys standing right behind me. The officer said, 'Is there anything you want to tell me before I open this bag?' I was horribly confused — but wrapped right on top between a few T-shirts was a large avocado. The TSA guy started laughing. I love avocados, and my 76-year-old father has a tree in his yard. He slipped one in my bag before leaving. Apparently, it doesn't look the best going through the X-ray machine. They thought it was a homemade bomb or grenade."

Someone holding an avocado
Fg Trade / Via Getty Images

17."My mom passed away unexpectedly in California. I flew out to pick up her ashes, and there was a terror alert at LAX. It was unreal; the military was in the airport with what looked like machine guns. I was out of my mind with grief and drugged to the gills. Security was heightened, and everyone was being searched. I only had a small carry-on and my mom’s ashes. When I got to the TSA, the agent wanted me to open my mother’s box of ashes! I refused and insisted they X-ray the box instead. It showed nothing inside (duh, ashes) which convinced the TSA agent that it had some sort of cloaking device and was hiding a bomb. Again, he insisted that I open the box that held my mom’s ashes."

"I was beginning to lose my shit. I called my husband who works in nuclear power and explained what was going on. He told me to tell the TSA agent to place a coin under the box and send it through the X-ray again.

He did and thank goodness he saw the coin. Otherwise, I would have been arrested for assaulting a stupid TSA agent."


18."Tampon showed up on the body scan thingy, and I had to have my crotch patted down."


19."I had a sample size (0.1-ounce) bottle of perfume in my book bag. They confiscated it in Detroit without explanation. I got to Germany, and they discovered a full-size pair of scissors in the front pocket of that same book bag. I wasn’t aware it was there. Both I and American security had missed the scissors. German security was much more polite over confiscating the scissors than American was over the perfume."

A row of perfume bottles
Anna Efetova / Via Getty Images

20."I had a brand-new, unopened bag of seasoned salt that I bought in Hawaii. They made me open it so they could make sure it wasn’t drugs. Also, I have big curly hair, and they always stop me to pat my head down."


21."A bejeweled thong. We had to travel super early in the morning, so my only excuse is I was too tired to think ahead when I got dressed. The TSA agents and the people behind me got a good laugh when we finally figured out why the machine beeped. Luckily, I didn't have to strip; a little peek of the top of my thong and a few passes over my ass with the handheld scanner was enough to let me through. But damn, it was embarrassing."


22."I had a razor in my bag. Like an old-school razor with a two-sided blade deal. They made me take the blade out... But they didn't care about the 50 pack of blades that was right there."

A razor on top of a towel
Olena Ruban / Via Getty Images

23."My girlfriend and I were flying once, and when we got to the airport she realized she forgot to take her knife out of her purse. This isn't a folding pocket knife but a 5-inch sheathed knife. Rather than throw it out, she decided to go through security and just throw it away if they asked her to because it's a nice knife.I shit you not — they didn't say a word. We went through security three times that trip, and nobody caught this huge knife in her bag. Ever since then, I've known TSA is a huge joke and doesn't make you any safer at all."


Were you ever stopped by the TSA for some incredibly strange reason? If so, tell us what happened in the comments below.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.