The strangest things found in hand luggage

There are the most unusual items passengers have tried to smuggle onto their flight

I’m sure you’re a pretty seasoned traveller. You know the ropes. Despite airlines having differing baggage allowances, I’m sure you’re sensible enough to know that you’re not allowed huge vats of liquid, sharp implements, explosives, and so on. It’s just common sense, right?

Well, some people either think the rules don’t apply to them, are willing to take the risk of trying to transport something bizarre, or simply have very little common sense. Here’s our list of unusual items that people have tried to get on board their flight.

A frozen turkey

4.5 kg frozen turkey had to stay in a Cardiff airport garbage bin — Shutterstock The strangest things found in hand luggage
4.5 kg frozen turkey had to remain in a Cardiff airport garbage bin — Shutterstock

Staff at Cardiff airport stopped a passenger casually strolling through security with a 4.5 kg (10 lb) frozen turkey under his arm. When told he wasn’t allowed to take perishable foodstuffs on board without special permission, he replied “Why are you making a fuss? Will it thaw out at 30,000 feet?”

Things that look like guns

Police were called to Stansted airport when a suspicious object was x-rayed… It turned out to be an iPhone holder in the shape of a gun. See also: a belt buckle shaped like a pistol confiscated on a flight out of Los Angeles. Oh, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of souvenir replica grenades people like to buy. Souvenir. Grenades. Including, I might add, salt and pepper shakers that were confiscated from one traveller’s luggage because they were — that’s right — made from grenades.

A turtle in a bun

The passenger wouldn't admit he had a turtle in the hamburger box — Shutterstock The strangest things found in hand luggage
The passenger wouldn’t admit he had a turtle in a hamburger box — Shutterstock

A Mr Li tried to board a flight to Beijing with a burger in a box that he claimed he’d bought in the airport. Not a problem, you’d think… except security discovered some “strange bulges”. Turns out Mr Li was trying to transport his pet turtle in the hamburger. When questioned, he replied: “No, it’s not a turtle. Just a hamburger. There is really nothing to see.”

A chainsaw

One Transportation Security Administration agent in the US tells of a time she stopped a passenger trying to get a chainsaw through security. He seemed bemused as to why this should be a problem, but then reckoned he’d worked it out. “I can take it through if I empty out the gas, right?”

“I just stared at him for a very long time,” said the agent.

Snow globes

Snow globes are usually too big to fit the 100 ml fluid restrictions — Shutterstock The strangest things found in hand luggage
Snow globes are usually too big to pass the 100 ml fluid restrictions — Shutterstock

Not precisely a deadly weapon, but these are among the most commonly confiscated items. The reason? They often exceed the 100 ml of liquid rule.

A lightsaber

Luckily, Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew was allowed to take his lightsaber-themed walking stick with him — Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock The strangest things found in hand luggage
Luckily, Star Wars’ actor Peter Mayhew was allowed to take his lightsaber-themed walking stick with him — Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Peter Mayhew, the veteran English actor who played Chewbacca in Star Wars, was stopped at Denver airport on his way home from Colorado Springs Comic Con. The seven-foot-three-inch actor uses a very long and unusually heavy walking stick… disguised as a lightsaber. Security had to work out if it constituted a weapon or not; luckily, they allowed that it didn’t.

A dead cow

A couple tried to check in for a flight from JFK to Heathrow with a cow carcass wrapped in bubble wrap and placed on a trolley as if it was the most normal thing in the world. The request was declined.

A bathtub

Taking a bathtub as your hand luggage is not the canniest of ideas — Shutterstock The strangest things found in hand luggage
Taking a bathtub in your hand luggage is not the smartest of ideas — Shutterstock

A South African traveller heading home from the UK to Johannesburg had clearly found her dream bath in one of London’s interior design stores. The only question was: how to get it home? Well, just check it in at the airport and you’re away! Easy, right?! No.

51 tropical fish and 44 geckos

A passenger from Germany man was caught trying to smuggle the small lizards on his trousers — Shutterstock The strangest things found in hand luggage
A German man was caught trying to smuggle the small lizards on his trousers — Shutterstock

“Flipping noises” alerted security in Singapore to a woman carrying a selection of tropical fish in water-filled pouches attached to an apron she was wearing underneath her dress. In other, similar news, a German man was caught trying to smuggle 44 geckos and skinks out of New Zealand in his trousers. Whatever floats your boat.

17 severed heads

It’s actually fine to transport 17 severed heads if you’ve got the right paperwork. Medical research centres need body parts all the time. However, in 2013, Chicago’s O’Hare airport lost a shipment of 17 severed heads, sparking a desperate — ahem — head-hunt to recover them again.