A 25-pound weight from Gold’s Gym carried in a plastic grocery bag was just one of the many prohibited items Transportation Security Administration workers confiscated from Raleigh-Durham International Airport passengers this holiday season.
Firearms, knives, brass knuckles, tools and car parts are among other items commonly surrendered by passengers. In the last 30 days, someone even lost their replica knives based on those used by characters in the popular movie “The Hobbit.”
With an average of 19,000 people boarding planes at RDU each day, TSA officials want to ensure the security checkpoint process runs as smoothly and quickly as possible by reminding passengers to double-check the contents of their carry-on bags.
More than 1,200 pounds of these prohibited items were voluntarily surrendered at RDU in 2015, and TSA officials said that about 30 percent of bag checks involve liquids, gels and aerosols that people forgot they were carrying.
Particularly at this time of year, those traveling with Christmas gifts may want to ensure that they won’t have to leave that gift for grandma at the security checkpoint.
“It’s probably wise to not wrap the gifts until you get to your destination,” said Beth Walker, the TSA federal security director for RDU. “If you wrap your gifts prior to coming to the checkpoint, there may be a reason that we would need to investigate further that package, and we may need to unwrap your gift.”
Loaded firearms in particular are becoming more prevalent. TSA confiscated 49 guns at RDU this year, including one on Wednesday morning and another on Thursday, TSA spokesman Michael England said. Anyone who brings a firearm to the security checkpoint will be cited and may face a civil penalty fine up to $11,000 or arrest.
But TSA officials and staff said they can still be surprised when it comes to what people try to bring on a plane, including large tools and weights in their carry-on bags.
“Apparently people want to get their workout in during their flight, and they can’t wait to get to the hotel,” England said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-829-4520: @KTrogdon
TSA Travel Tips
▪ Double-check your carry-on bags.
▪ Check the list of prohibited items at www.tsa.gov.
▪ Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes in carry-on bags must be 3.4 ounces or less per container; must be in a one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag with only one bag permitted per passenger; and the bag must be taken out of the suitcase and placed into a screening bin.
▪ Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula/food and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces. They don’t have to be in the zip-top bag but must be declared for inspection before sending a bag into the X-ray tunnel.
▪ Do not bring firearms of any kind. Anyone that brings a firearm to the security checkpoint will be cited and may face a civil penalty fine up to $11,000 or arrest.
▪ Wait to wrap your gifts until you reach your destination.
Passengers can follow @asktsa on Twitter to get real time advice on any TSA-related questions.