15 People Share Their Worst Airport Security Stories So You Don't Make The Same Mistakes

List Rules
Frequent flyers: vote up the worst airport security stories you don't want to replicate.

Going through airport security can be a stressful experience. These people are sharing their worst TSA stories so you know what you're getting into the next time you're in the same situation. Vote up the worst airport security stories you don't want to replicate.


  • 1
    6 VOTES

    A Radio Looked Like A Detonation Device

    From Redditor u/sietemeles:

    I had a transistor radio with a broken battery compartment, so I strapped the battery on the outside with some sticky tape and popped the red and black wires into the inside via a crack. Security gave me a funny look, got me to fish it out of the bag, and asked me to turn it on.

    People behind me in the queue took three steps backward as I went for the switch.

    TRUE story, 1977, Birmingham airport, flight to Benidorm.

  • 2
    6 VOTES

    Soap-On-A-Rope Looked Threatening On The Scans

    From Redditor u/SunnyJackTheFlower

    This one time when I was 17-18 I was going through the Palm Springs airport security when my bag gets pulled aside by one of the officers after I walk through the scanner. The man pulls the bag off the belt, then looks me in the eye and asks, "Is this yours?"

    To which I reply, ‘Yes."

    "Is there anything inside that I should be concerned about?"

    Slightly confused, I respond, "No sir, I don’t believe so."

    He then opens the bag, [and] rummages inside until he pulls out a small box and asks me, deadpan serious, "What is this?"

    At this point I pick up just how much this officer is on edge. He was so tense, I swear he looked ready to charge me if I were to do so much as itch my chin the wrong way. The intensity emanating off of him was palpable, and I do my very best to hold my poise as I answer him with a straight face: "That is a soap-on-a-rope, sir."

    He proceeds to take the soap-on-a-rope out of the box and I explain how my dad gave it to me as a joke gift for my birthday. Seeing his tension diffuse slightly, I ask what the problem was.

    Literally tells me that soap has the consistency of C-4 [an explosive], and the hole in the top was suspicious (where rope met soap), so it was flagged as a potential threat. Shortly after realizing the lack of threat and obvious misunderstanding, they let me through and I rejoined my family, soap-on-a-rope and all.

  • 3
    6 VOTES

    Forgot About Their Grenade-Shaped Keychain Lighter

    From Redditor u/Outlawsix:

    So my wife is from Belarus and she went to visit her parents in 2015 while I worked in Arkansas. As a souvenir, she brought back a little keychain lighter in the shape of a grenade. 

    I thought it was awesome and kept it at my desk at work. A year later, I accepted a job offer in Illinois, packed up all my desk stuff, including the lighter, into a spare backpack, and tossed it with my other stuff when we moved. Fast-forward to the fall of 2017 and we all go visit Belarus for two weeks.

    I took that same backpack, and when I emptied it I forgot that I had stuff[ed] the lighter into a hidden side pocket.

    Flew from O'Hare to Frankfurt to Minsk, no problem. At the end of the trip, flew from Minsk to Frankfurt, and we were going to our connection for our final flight back to Chicago and went through another checkpoint. Everything going fine, but I realize its been three or four minutes and all the bags have stopped coming through the scanner.

    I figure its either broken or someone got flagged for a check. Still waiting. I'm standing behind the guy running the scanner so I can see his screen. He keeps zooming in and out on what looks like an umbrella in a backpack. I have an umbrella in my backpack. But why would that be suspicious?

    Then I see him scan around and stop on what looks like a grenade, and it's zoomed in so it appears full size instead of tiny.

    Aw, f*ck. I forgot about that thing. Immediately I realize that five or six other guards have arrived. I chuckle nervously (because I'm a moron) and raise my hand and tell them it's mine, it's a lighter, and I'm really sorry. My wife and two kids are watching in silence as the guards are searching me while I continuously chuckle and apologize more and more profusely. Another three guys approach my bag and use like prong tools or something to open the bag and gingerly bring out the grenade. 

    At this point my wife and kids leave to go to the gate. It's been 40 minutes now. Everyone in the airport hates me.

    I ended up having to surrender my lighter and they made me sign a form acknowledging that I had brought a lookalike device to the airport and surrendered it.

    They finally let me go after more fingerprints and swab tests. I run like an out-of-shape American and barely catch the flight before it takes off. Others missed their flights. Sorry people.

  • 4
    10 VOTES

    Traveled While Smelling A Little Suspicious

    From Redditor u/shredthegnar_NL:

    Going through customs in Sydney, Australia (Canadian citizen), [I] got pulled aside for a dog identifying me as smelling like a narcotic. This is 18 hours after smoking a joint in Vancouver before going to the airport. They took me to a separate room to search... my two backpack packs. But I'm not stupid enough to transport weed across the border.

  • 5
    8 VOTES

    Got Held For More than Four Hours For Not Having A Hostel Address

    From Redditor u/no_objections_here:

    I got held at Gatwick once for four-and-a-half hours because I didn't have the exact address of the hostel I was going to be staying at. I was planning on just looking for a hostel when I arrived so that I could better compare prices, but apparently that isn't a good idea. I swear, I thought they were going to send me back. They searched through my whole bag, read all my personal journals and letters from friends, took my passport, and didn't tell me why until they let me go.

  • 6
    7 VOTES

    Suspicious Toys Were Confiscated

    From Redditor u/Every-Username-Ever-:

    Snuck waterguns into my bag when I was 12. Needless to say, they were confiscated even after I demonstrated how they worked.