A trip to the “happiest place on earth” ended with a 5-year-old boy in the depths of despair.
After a vacation at Disney World, Levi Zilka and his father David Zilka were stopped by security at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport recently because of a toy that the boy’s uncle had given him as a souvenir from the trip. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents had taken notice of the Buzz Lightyear Flip Grip toy and weren’t pleased. “We couldn’t go on the plane yet because they said it looks too much like a gun and you can’t bring guns on the plane,“ Levi told WWMT.
Levi Zilka (Photo: WWMT)
The duo from Mechanicsburg, Penn. had only brought carry-on luggage with them and the airport agents refused to let the Zilkas on the plane with the toy. “Once he realized what was happening, that they weren’t giving his toy back, he immediately starts bawling, just tears streaming down his face, crying,” the dad said of Levi, who “loved” the toy, an accessory for the character from the 1995 Pixar hit Toy Story. (Zilka didn’t respond to Yahoo Parenting’s request for comment). Sniffed Levi: “They threw it in the trash.”
Buzz LIghtyear (Photo: Disney/Pixar)
TSA spokesman Mike England confirmed to Yahoo Parenting in a statement that the toy gun was confiscated, but insists that the Zilkas had options other than letting it be trashed. “When passengers are informed that an item is prohibited from being carried into the cabin of an airplane, they are given options by TSA,” writes England. “One of those options is that passengers may place the item in a checked bag. Other options…include handing off the item to a non-traveling companion, returning it to their car, and mailing it to their destination if that airport has a mailing center. Those options …were explained [but] the passenger chose instead to voluntarily surrender the item to TSA, where it was placed in a locked bin along with other prohibited items and will ultimately be turned over to the state.”
The Zilkas (Photo: WWMT)
Zilka still said the situation could have been handled better, and has reportedly filed a complaint with the agency. “We understand that things are scary out there right now but taking a toy from a 5-year-old doesn’t enhance national security,” he said. “It was all I could do not to break down with him in that moment.”
David Zilka (Photo: WWMT)
Yet England stands by the agents’ actions that day. “TSA officers are charged with protecting passengers and making final judgments on which items are permitted on aircraft,” he writes. “In our review of this situation, the officer’s decision complied with approved procedures…TSA officers have the discretion to deny passage of an item if they cannot definitively rule out that the item could be used as a weapon, or perceived to be a weapon, including replica weapons.”
The Zilkas at home (Photo: WWMT)
(Top photo: Reddit )