The 10 Strangest Items TSA Officers Found at Checkpoints in 2021

Spoiler: One of them is a machete. Another is a meth burrito.

TSA Checkpoint
TSA officers have seen it all.

The team behind TSA’s stellar Instagram account has compiled a list of the 10 oddest items that were surrendered at security checkpoints across the country in 2021. The resulting video sorts through a variety of item ranging from weapons to drugs to … more weapons, with a particular emphasis on firearms.

It’s not surprising considering that, per the TSA’s website, more than 2 million passengers are screened each day at nearly 440 airports nationwide, and on average, officers discover as many as nine firearms (among other prohibited items) per day. Couple that with the fact that 2021 was a big year for people trying to bring guns into the cabin, and it’s almost surprising the number isn’t higher.

That said, firearms were hardly the only strange items people tried to get through security. Here’s the full list:

  • Bullets in deodorant
  • A pistol
  • A meth burrito
  • A firearm buckle
  • A cleaver
  • Bear spray
  • A machete
  • Fireworks
  • A wine holder
  • A chainsaw

Something to note, however, is that items, regardless of classification, are almost never truly confiscated. If a passenger arrives at a checkpoint with a prohibited item, they’re given a series of options: they could put the item in a checked bag; hand it off to a non-traveling companion; return it to their car; mail it to their home or final destination, assuming the airport has a mailing center (some do, some don’t); or they can voluntarily surrender it to TSA. So, in effect, the weirdo who tries to bring a machete on a plane doesn’t necessarily lose their machete privileges (though, I have to believe the guy who tried to smuggle meth in his burrito probably lost his meth privileges).

Another little known fact is that many of the items that are surrendered to TSA are actually available to purchase via state agencies for surplus property. So if you read this and thought, “Wow — neat!” You’re actually in luck.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.