It hasn't been easy to travel as of late. While we can blame last-minute flight cancellations or airlines losing luggage, there's one thing that many can agree provided a headache long before things went haywire at most airports this year — and it's the TSA.
Roc-A-Fella Def Jam / Via giphy.com
Nearly 300 people from the BuzzFeed Community shared their own stories about weird TSA experiences with us, and we wanted to share some more of the wildest ones with you below:
1."I was waiting to board a plane, and a security agent with a beagle came by. The dog must have alerted him that he smelled something because the agent stopped me. At least he was nice and said, 'I don’t think you have anything, but this dog is in training, and I’d like to look in your backpack.' I said, 'Sure' and put it on the ground.
2."I had broken my ankle while on vacation a couple years ago and was in a walking boot flying back home. The TSA lady said, 'Take off the boot and hand it to me so I can scan it.' But then she wouldn't let me sit down; she wanted me to stand on a broken ankle while she checked my boot for something or another. My friend raised a bit of a fit about it because I was already in a lot of pain and almost in tears, and finally, the supervisor said I could just go through."
3."When my son was about 5 months old, we were traveling to Tennessee. He was still on formula, and I thought (logically) to put some of his formula in a Tupperware instead of taking the whole tin and risking something happening to all of it. Well. Just so you know, TSA will lose their goddamn minds if they find an unlabeled tub of white powder in luggage. I nearly missed my flight because they didn’t believe it was baby formula."
4."My experience goes back to the early '70s when airport security was first implemented. It involved going through your luggage. I had a large briefcase that I carried when going on an overnight business trip. I put a change of clothes and my shaving kit on one side and business papers on the other side. The first time I encountered security, the agent emptied the contents of my shaving kit, including my toothbrush onto an un-sanitized table. That ticked me off. The next time I traveled overnight, I put a horse condom — side note: My father-in-law once gave me a horse condom that was used in some medical research he was involved with — on top of the items in my shaving kit. At security, a young woman agent opened my suitcase, saw the shaving kit, and opened it.
5."Back in 2019, my boyfriend at the time was a flight attendant. He had put me on his flight benefits, and for a weekend getaway, we were going to Amsterdam. Well, as a gay man, I packed a douche because we planned on ~playing piano~ so to speak for the first time ever. All was good going to Europe, but in the Amsterdam airport on the way back was another story. I was in the security line alone because my boyfriend had pre-approved status being a flight attendant, and as they were scanning my bag, it got flagged.
"I didn’t think much of it, but as the security guard was going through my bag, he pulled out my douche. He started reading the packaging and was confused about what it was, so he started YELLING ACROSS SECURITY TO THE OTHER GUARDS. This goes on, for, I kid you not, about five minutes until a security guard who knew what it was came over and explained it to them.
"At that point, everyone in security heard them, and I was just standing there beet red. They put it all back and apologized to me, but I just took my bag and ran off as fast as I could. And that is why I refuse to ever go back to Amsterdam."
6."Going through customs to come back into the USA, my mother was asked what she had all wrapped up in her carry-on bag. 'Just a little pot,' she replied. Yelling and pushing, six more agents with drug dogs were there within seconds to unwrap and sniff her miniature Panamanian clay bowl. Mom stated she had no idea [a] wrapped pot could cause so much trouble!"
7."I was 17 and heavily pregnant (I know, I know) and traveling back home from visiting my sick grandma. I was wearing traditional Florida clothes (flops, shorts, and a T-shirt) and was pulled aside after going through the metal scanner. I was confused because I hadn't set it off or anything, and my flops were in the bin. The security officer told me to take off my shoes, only to be greeted by my bare feet. She then loudly asked what I was smuggling under my shirt, and I said, 'An unborn child,' and she RIPPED my shirt straight open with the air of someone proving that they had caught someone in a lie.
8."I was 14, and I visited the US for the first time. I wanted to buy a grenade perfume and bullet belt from Hot Topic, and my mom said no since it’d be hard to travel back with, and we’d likely get stopped and searched. Fast-forward to a few days later when we were at the airport, and we STILL got searched. Why? Because I had a pack of pads in my carry-on that seemed ‘suspicious.’
"I tried to explain what it was before they opened it, but apparently, it was too big to be my sanitary pads. When the agent opened it and realized it, the look on his face was priceless. I was mortified then, but it was still hilarious."
9."The two times I have flown with my violin, I’ve gotten flagged by TSA. My favorite was when they wanted me to take the violin apart so they could check the inside, because, you know, string instruments come apart so easily. They were more concerned about my violin than the multiple pairs of knitting needles in my backpack."
10."Once the TSA made my grandma throw away her steak seasoning because 'she could make a bomb with it.'"
11."I was flying back to Korea from Oklahoma after being there for some training and had a vibrator in my suitcase. The airport I flew out of is very small, and they X-rayed the checked baggage right there by check-in. The TSA agent put my bag in, and right there on the screen is my vibrator. The TSA got kinda red in the face and started laughing — but, thankfully, they didn’t pull it out to verify."
12."I had TSA try to tell me my ID wasn’t valid because Washington, DC isn't a state and can’t issue IDs. I had to get his manager to tell him he was wrong."
13."I was going to the airport to pick up my 10-year-old niece who was flying in by herself to land in my airport half a country away from her home. I got caught up in traffic on the way there with an accident that happened only a mile in front of me, so I was running late. After getting to the front desk and having to figure out how to check in to be able to go through security, I knew her flight had already landed. As I went through security, the only things I had were my keys and my phone because I knew I wanted to get through fast. As I went through, though, I got pulled aside because the TSA agent saw the elder wand keychain I had from Harry Potter and thought it was a weapon.
14."Not me, but a group of friends and I were traveling in the dead of winter to surprise a friend for a milestone birthday. My one friend got stopped and taken to a room because the tinsel in her sweater made the TSA agents think she had explosives in her shirt."
15."TSA threw away a bar of soap that I'd taken from the hotel because, apparently, that 'counted as a liquid.' I pointed out that it was a solid bar of soap, and they said it was solid now, but it turned into a liquid when wet, so it counted as a liquid and needed to be under 3 oz. Sometimes, I think they make shit up to mess with people when they get bored."
16."Two weeks ago, flying with three other ladies from China to South Africa. We got through security in Shanghai and Addis Ababa just fine. Mind you, Shanghai is a nightmare to get through. Checked in for the last flight at Harare, Zimbabwe. There’s an issue with one girl’s bag. They confiscated the 18 golf balls she had bought for her sister that have been let through at two other (much larger) airports. No reason. Just ‘you can’t have this in a carry-on.'"
17."I had a splint on a broken finger when I had to go through the metal detector. I had to remove my shoes (hiking boots), and I asked about my finger splint. They waved me through, and the metal detector went off. I asked again about the splint, which they brushed off and did a pat-down of my jeans pockets. They sent me through again, and again the metal detector went off. The agent motioned to someone else to come over, and as that agent approached, I pulled the splint off my finger, handed it to the first agent, then walked back through — nothing. It was the damned splint.
"The look on the first agent's face was one of slight disgust because my finger was swollen and very, very bruised (it was a spiral fracture). I winced as I pushed the splint back on, then shuffled off to put my hiking boots back on."
18."I had a dog bone that was chewed a lot, so it was a bit sharp, and I was held back in case it was used as a sharp object to hurt someone. I literally had my dog with me, and it very much looked like a dog toy."
19."Recently, I was traveling with my two 8-year-old boys from Richmond, Virginia, back to Kansas. We have two carry-on suitcases and two backpacks; one was with toys in it. TSA pulls one suitcase and the toy bag after the X-ray. My oldest son has a stretchy Sonic toy, and the guy tested it for explosives. Then he checked the suitcase, which had a 3-ft. stick of pepperoni, cut into three pieces, which was all wrapped in plastic wrap and inside a Ziploc bag. The guy opened the bag, took a piece out, and unwrapped it. All to test it for explosives as well. I can let the Sonic toy go, but pepperoni? I could smell it across the conveyer when he opened the bag."
20."I went through TSA and got pulled aside for a search because they wanted to search my hair. I had extensions in my hair and was told I needed to take them out, yet they were glued in, and I could not. Then this person had me go back through and get searched with a wand after she searched my hair and embarrassed me."
21."I had one dump an unopened bottle of foundation to 'make sure you didn't hide drugs in there.'"
22."On my way to London, my carry-on got pulled to the side, and the agent was whispering to his colleague. They both looked horrified and asked me to open the suitcase. I, unfortunately, opened it the wrong side up, so all the stuff held in by just the elastic X-strap flew out, which was a box of tampons, pads, bras, and underwear.
23."When I was flying back to Wisconsin from Sacramento, I forgot I had this souvenir that I was bringing back for my grandma: It was this owl-shaped jewelry box. Anyways, it was wrapped in newspaper, and it got flagged by the TSA. A bunch of military and police came, and everyone was not opening the bag and was scared and asking me, 'What is that in there?' and I seriously didn’t know because I forgot I had it. They handed it to me and had me unwrap it. I unwrapped it and showed it to them that is a jewelry box and not a grenade as they thought."
Were you ever stopped by the TSA for some incredibly weird reason? If so, tell us what happened in the comments below.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.