Tasers, hatchets, frying pans and guns: FOX 12 reviews what TSA nabs at PDX

FOX 12 recently got an exclusive look at some of the odd items that the TSA regularly confiscates from passengers during the security checks.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 7:14 AM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - You may have accidentally left a bottle of water, lotion or sunscreen in your carry-on bag ahead of a flight before, but what about a taser, chainsaw or ax?

FOX 12 recently got an exclusive look at some of the odd items that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regularly confiscates from passengers during the security checks before their flights at the Portland International Airport.

“One of the strangest things to come through - we’ve had hatchets come through - like, why are you traveling with a hatchet and had it casually inside their purse,” said TSA Supervising Officer Kylen Hjort.

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While trying to bring a hatchet or large knife on a flight does seem bizarre, tasers are actually becoming a much more common item that people forget to take out of their bags and purses, according to TSA spokeswoman, Lorie Dankers.

Another new trend: more people bringing guns through security. The TSA said it’s a growing problem nationally and in Oregon, as well.

Last year, TSA officers detected 108 guns in carry-on bags at Oregon airports, a 24% increase from 2019.

So far this year, passengers have attempted to bring 12 guns through security at PDX, at least nine of the guns were loaded at the time.

In those cases, the TSA turns the incidents over to Port of Portland Police.

Whether it’s a gun, a knife, or a tool, the good news is that there’s rarely ill intent, said Kathleen McDonald, the TSA’s Federal Security Director for Oregon.

“I think one of the most common errors when people come through the security checkpoint is mostly forgetting what’s in their bag, or not taking the time to look ahead of time at what is prohibited and permitted through the security checkpoint,” McDonald said.

What’s more alarming, is much less common, said McDonald.

“We have seen what we might call artful concealment,” McDonald said.

The TSA’s well-known and often witty Instagram account often spotlights how passengers will try to hide items that aren’t allowed through security.

This past fall, a gun was found hidden inside a raw chicken at an airport in Florida.

So what happens if you don’t just forget that an item is in your bag and instead try to cleverly wrap or hide it?

“We’re going to ask you some more probing questions to get to know the why behind the what, and depending on the item itself, we might have to escalate to the local law enforcement to take over,” Hjort said.

Breaking the law could leave you with fines or more serious charges.

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But for most travelers, it’s the little things more likely to slow down the lines.

“Right now it’s spring break so we have a lot of people who are headed out to sunnier destinations. A lot of times, you have to remember that we have prohibited items on liquids and sunscreen is an item that comes through a lot this time of year,” McDonald said.

The TSA want to remind people to double-check bags before flights, to save the hassle, cash or replacing an item or losing grandpa’s special pocketknife.

Another tip: if you aren’t quite sure if your item is good to go through security, just head to the TSA’s website or download its app. There you can type in your item and find out right away if you can carry it on.