Many passengers have been questioned or searched at airport security controls and been forced to leave behind bottles of water, nail clippers or even cheese. On the other hand, some passengers have tried to put less innocent objects through inspection, and on occasion have even succeeded. According to research from travel search engine Jetcost.co.uk, these are the 10 strangest items that passengers have attempted to take in their hand lugguage.
1. A turtle in a burger
It is not completely unfeasible to connect a burger with a turtle; there really are some similarities: the round shape, the sandwich-like construction and the shiny green colour (be it skin or lettuce). This connection apparently motivated a Chinese man called Mr Li to try boarding a flight to Beijing with his turtle inside a KFC burger. When going through the X-ray machine, the inspectors discovered some “strange bulges” in the burger. When asked about it, Mr Li answered, “This is not a turtle, but just a burger. There is nothing to see”, maybe thinking that the turtle-burger optical illusion could have remained for a moment more. The news, undoubtedly trivial, has been circulating in newspapers around the world, as light informative yet refreshing news exploiting the optical illusion of this postmodern animal: the turtle-burger.
2. A weapon and ammunition in stuffed toys
According to Jetcost, one of the most alarming cases was an American father who tried to board an aircraft with a weapon and ammunition hidden in his four-year-old son’s stuffed toys. The security officers at the boarding area in Rhode Island T.F. Green airport in the USA could not believe it when they discovered a small arsenal camouflaged inside several of the child’s stuffed toys carried by a father and his son, who intended to board a plane to Detroit. When the toys were scanned, the TSA officers saw something that seemed suspicious to them: they saw what looked like a container full of bullets inside an apparently harmless white rabbit. Next came a teddy bear, also carrying a surprise: inside was a 40-calibre gun frame. Lastly, the TSA agents put the last stuffed toy, a Mickey Mouse, through the X-ray machine and found that it contained the slide and the barrel needed to complete the gun. The authorities took the man and his son into custody but, after interrogating them for several minutes, they allowed them to board their flight without any type of ban. After investigating the case, both the FBI and the airport investigators considered that “they did not represent a threat to air security”. They did however confiscate the weapon and the ammunition – but luckily not the cuddly animals.
3. Tadpoles inside the mouth
A South Korean woman was put under arrest in Guangzhou airport in China when she tried to pass through security checks with a mouth full of tadpoles. This odd story began when the airport guards saw a woman trying to board with a liquid bottle in her hand luggage. In accordance with the rules for international flights, the guards asked the passenger to drink the liquid or throw out the bottle, and the woman chose the first option. The civil servants nevertheless realised the woman had filled her mouth with liquid without swallowing it, and requested that she spit it into a bucket. The passenger complied with the demand, leaving both the airport employees and the many waiting passengers stunned: along with the liquid, she spat dozens of frogs-to-be. Asked about the reasons for her strange behaviour, the woman explained that a friend had given her the tadpoles and she did not want to lose them. Her moving story did not convince the guards, and made her get rid of her pets before boarding the aircraft.
4. Seven snakes and three turtles in his pants
A man tried to board an aircraft in Miami for a flight to Brazil with bags full of exotic snakes and turtles hidden in his pants. The TSA spokesman, Jonathon Allen, said the man was held after passing through a complete body tomography detector at Miami International Airport. Security employees discovered several nylon bags hidden in his pants, altogether containing seven snakes and three turtles. The South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper said the animals were confiscated by the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife and the passenger was arrested.
5. A corpse in a wheelchair pretending to be a passenger
Two women were arrested at a British airport when they tried to board an aircraft with a relative’s cadaver as a passenger. The two Germans, aged 41 and 66, were arrested at Liverpool John Lennon airport for “failing to give notification of the death” of a 91-year-old man, the relative with whom they were trying to travel to Berlin. The most remarkable part of this case was the way they intended to continue with the hoax. According to information revealed by the BBC, they sat the man in a wheelchair and put a pair of sunglasses on him. When they showed up at the check-in desk, the employees noticed something suspicious and realised the man was dead, although the women insisted that he was merely asleep.
6. A crocodile in a briefcase
A serious case was a stowaway crocodile that escaped from the luggage it was carried in, causing so much anxiety and movement among passengers that it made the aircraft fall, resulting in an accident and several deaths. The crocodile was hidden in a traveller’s sports bag on an internal Congo flight from Kinshasa airport to Bandundu local airport, along with the documents necessary to sell it, but it managed to escape and became angry, spreading terror on the plane. The passengers’ panicked movements caused a loss of balance, and the aircraft plummeted and crashed into a house. The only survivor of the Let 410 plane crash told the unbelievable story to the investigators. Ironically, the crocodile survived the accident, though it was sacrificed right away by the rescuers, with a blow from a machete.
7. A cranium and several human teeth in a suitcase
Security agents at Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood International Airport, Florida, found a skull and human teeth in the luggage of two women who were travelling to Baltimore, Maryland. According to Broward Police, the women declared they had visited Cuba recently, where they had bought two sealed containers in a religious store. One of the containers broke and they found inside pieces of a cranium and some teeth. The women, who were going to board an AirTran Baltimore flight, offered to stay and talk with the Police of County Broward in order to clarify the incident. The airport authorities reminded travellers that every suspicious package will be reviewed, and recommend that passengers have absolute certainty of the origin of the objects they carry.
8. A laser sword from Star Wars
The USA’s TSA has become famous of late due to the extreme zeal with which its staff inspect passengers before they board – even three-year-old children in wheelchairs. US Air Force officials, however, have now literally seen cases from another planet. Peter Mayhew, the actor who performed the hairy Chewbacca in the Star Wars saga, was going back to his residence in Texas when TSA officers stopped him before he boarded an aircraft in Denver. The reason? He was carrying a weapon… a light sabre no less. In fact he was carrying it for a reason. The 2.21m-tall English actor had just shown up at the Colorado ComicCon, along with his legendary light sword, causing a serious debate among the security agents about whether to considerate it a threat or not. Annoyed, Mayhew tried to explain to the guards that due to his height and age (almost 70 years old) he needs the light sabre for support when walking. Finally, American Airlines staff (Mayhew is a frequent flyer with them) came to the rescue and managed to convince the TSA agents that it was extremely unlikely that a famous actor would hijack a plane armed with a light sabre.
9. Pygmy monkeys in underwear
At New Delhi airport in India three men planned to travel to Dubai, but police detected something strange: two of the three subjects had odd lumps in their pants. When inspecting their underwear the police realised that the three men were trying to travel with several slow lorises (an endangered species of primate native to Indonesia) in order to sell them. The airport police arrested them while the People For Animals organisation took care of the primates.
10. A knife in a mayonnaise jar
A man tried to fly from New York to Mexico City with a knife hidden inside a mayonnaise jar. The man, whose identity was not disclosed, was intercepted by JFK International Airport authorities when agents discovered the weapon inside the condiment jar. New York and New Jersey Port Authority Police confiscated the knife and the mayonnaise jar, but allowed the passenger to board the plane without charges being brought against him.