Trip Reports

Oh, that’s just a fish in our bag mr. security agent

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


“Excuse me, Sir,

is this your bag?”


I hate to hear these words at security! Several years back (about 15+), I was returning through the OLD Detroit Airport from Sweden. Inbound flight was delayed and missed our connection to SBN. Back then without status or club access we were forced to leave the secured side and go back to the ticket counter for re-booking. That done, we wearily made our way back to security where we were asked the dreaded question by the security personnel (again pre-TSA). I nodded and was then informed my bag would need to be examined. They began taking things out of the bag one by one, opening everything individually and generally making my very tired and OCD wife extremely unhappy. When they had nearly emptied the full contents of the bag and not found what they were looking for you can imagine my surprise when my wife, who had been trying to figure out what had looked wrong in the x-ray, suddenly says, “Oh, it must be the fish!

The security guy and I look at each other with the same horrified expression.

Then she went on, “You know, the crystal fish. It must be lead crystal.”

Oh. Right! THAT fish. A friend had given it to us as a gift and we had, prudently we’d thought, brought it with us in our carry-on bag so it would not get broken. Jetlag and fatigue can make you say the silliest things! When they finally located the fish, and confirmed it was indeed a Swedish lead crystal variety, they hurriedly shoved all our stuff back in the bag and sent us on our way.

But as certified PADI scuba divers, our favorite thing to take carry-on is our regulators. These must just look super wicked on the x-ray because unless the TSA person on the screen has seen one before, the eyes always get huge when they see all of that metal with hoses and clamps attached.

So how about you, what’s the funniest or strangest thing the TSA ever found in your bag that you forgot you had put in there?


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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. A brand new 6oz toothpaste in my carry on — which is too big to the TSA standard. TSA kept it as their “gift” 🙁

  2. My friend harvests his own wild rice. He gave me a bag (so it was in an unmarked zip-top bag). I took the bag to give to a friend in Mexico. It was in my carry-on bag but as I went through customs in Cancun, I was asked about what it was. Even though I knew the word for rice in Spanish, I guess it was too suspicious-looking and it was confiscated. I was so bummed!

  3. I had to demonstrate my scuba regulator at PEK to the (very young) security screeners. They pulled it out of my carryon bag and held it up with worrying expressions on their faces. I put it in my mouth and made swimming motions!

  4. i had a small statue of Ganesh (a hindu god) in my carry on that someone gave me right when i was leaving india to head home to the states. the TSA at IAD went crazy searching through my bag looking for it. i think they thought it was a grenade considering the

  5. An idiot friend of mine brought a case of clay poker chips in his carry-on. Needless to say it caused quite a scare.

  6. Not really funny but…a snow globe. I completely forgot about the liquid it contained. Needless to say that I had to go back to the ticket counter and check it in my carry-on bag.

  7. I’m usually careful but I use the same carryon computer bag when I fly than I use when I drive. So sometimes I’ll put “TSA prohibited” things in the bag for a road trip and forget to remove them when I rush out to catch a plane. Over the years I’ve had a fairly large pocket knife, a decent size tube of toothpaste and half bottle of soda. These were all separate instances and the funny part is TSA didn’t catch ANY of them. Not even once. It’s not entirely unusual for them to ask to take a second look when I don’t have contraband since I have a lot of wires in there for computer stuff. So laptop charger, “hmm, how weird, let’s check it out”. A knife? “No, must be ok, let it through!”

  8. an all in one knife/wrench/screwdriver I forgot was in my carry on. I’m always bringing my metal detector with me when going to the caribbean and I forgot about this little tool….it was a real stopper!

  9. My brother works for the TSA and the items the have seen are just endless. #1 item is pot #2 is [edit] toys… Is it just me but really…. Check that thing. ….

  10. A few years back I had a pouch of hand tools left in my backpack, including long screwdrivers. It was about $100 worth of stuff, and since I had enough time, I ran back to the check-in counter and checked my whole backpack so I wouldn’t have to give away the tools.

    More recently (Last Thursday), I was flying home from MCO, and I forgot to put my pocketknife into my checked baggage, and had forgotten it was in my backpack. They scanned and searched it twice before I asked what they were looking for. When I realized it was in there, I found it for them and moved on as quickly as possible, as I was running late.

  11. One of the BIG Canisters of a new energy drink/protein powder formula that a friend gave me to take home and try.

    TSA recognized and questioned w/o opening the bag. Interesting it stands out on scanner, and how could they recognize? Who carries that on frequently that it would stand out?!

  12. A homemade battery-powered USB charger. That one didn’t make it on the plane. 🙂

  13. msp2anywhere Reply

    We had this one guy in our unit who waited till the last minute to pack for a deployment, then acted like we should all pitch in and help him.

    That ended when we put a rather large, battery-powered ‘personal massager’ in his ruck that we was going to use as a carry-on. TSA spotted a ‘potential weapon’.

    Needless to say, after having it pulled from his bag in plain view, and sputtering expletives and excuses, he never. asked. for packing help. again!

  14. We had picked up a refrigerator magnet of the Cologne Cathedral and my wife stuck it in the bottom of our carryon. On the X-ray, the twin spires of the cathedral looked like two sharp scissor blades to the TSA inspector. He laughed when he pulled it out of the bag,but let it go through.

  15. Really not funny but three years ago the family took Mom on a vacation to Vegas. At the Flamingo gift shop Mom bought a snowglobe as a gift for one of her friends at home. She didn’t tell anybody and kept it in her purse for the flight. She was a very upset 75 year old woman when TSA tossed it in the trash.

  16. This happened pre TSA or it could have been ugly. I used to carry office supplies in a pouch,paper clips rubber bands, pens, small stapler, one hole punch. The one hole punch happened to lay over the stapler when I went through security. The punch looked like the handle of a pistol and when it laid over the stapler, which looked like a pistol barrel, I was suddenly not very popular. Once security figured out what they were actually seeing, they became much more relaxed (which doesn’t begin to describe how I felt) and we all had a good laugh.

  17. I had the same sort of thing happen at LHR — only it was Swarovski Christmas ornament, which in the X-ray looked like a Ninja throwing star. This was in 2000, but there was some sort of alert on and I was quickly surrounded by a bunch of security guards. I was pretty freaked out until I remembered it was leaded crystal.

    My brother had a more recent scare — in his bag was his Kindle, some headphones and a couple of Clif Bars. I guess that looks just like a bomb in the machine. The TSA guy told my brother “It’s lucky you didn’t put fertilizer on your tomato plants this morning — we would have evacuated the airport.”

  18. A friend gave me her leftover acidophilus pills a few years ago as I was backpacking through Asia. They were in a large ziplock bag, which, to save space, I emptied and put in a small black film canister.

    Somehow, one of the agents went through my bag, pulled out the film canister, opened it up, gave me a condemning glare, and asked, “So, what are these?”

    And for the life of me I could not remember what they were called. After sputtering a bit – and probably looking very guilty – I blurted out out, “I don’t know. My friend gave them to me. But they’re really good for ya!”.

    Miraculously they let me go. To this day i think its a miracle that they didn’t not subject me to a cavity search. 🙂

  19. I was stopped on the way back from Florence because the security agent saw metal in my bag. He insisted on looking through the bag himself and would not accept any help from me. Ten minutes later he brought someone over and SHE found my crochet needles.

    He was furious that he had to call someone else over only to find crochet needles and after questioning how the US allowed me to leave the country with them, he banned me from using them on my flight out of Italy.

    I am not sure how he would know that I used them on the flight from Italy to Germany, but whatever. I had a flight to catch. 🙂

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