While 1.2 million passengers board planes at Blue Grass Airport each year, not all of their belongings make it onto flights with them. Water bottles, hairspray and unusual items such as cat-shaped brass knuckles end up in bins after Transportation Security Administration workers confiscate the prohibited items.
TSA spokesman Mark Howell said at a media demonstration Friday that 25 to 50 pounds of prohibited items are abandoned at Lexington’s airport each month. A larger airport, like Atlanta’s, deals with 1,300 to 1,500 pounds per month.
Items found at Blue Grass Airport range from the standard water bottles and lighters to a blade concealed in a lipstick tube. One lighter at the airport Friday shot a flame reaching 12 inches into the air. Howell dubbed it a “light saber.”
In 99 percent of the cases, Howell said U.S. travelers aren’t trying to sneak items on intentionally. An example was a man at an airport in another city who tried to bring a full tank of gas through the checkpoint. “The passenger was trying to travel on a short flight, he knew his vehicle was out of gas at his destination, so he was trying to be forward-thinking,” Howell said.
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Poor planning and last-minute packing are also likely culprits for handguns found in carry-ons, Howell said. The TSA at Blue Grass Airport found eight handguns in 2015, one more than in 2014. Handguns must be checked in properly to fly.
“Everyone gets into that culture of rushing and they bring it to the airport,” Howell said.
Laraine Skorich, lead transportation security officer for Blue Grass Airport, said many passengers aren’t even aware of what’s hiding in their bag.
“A lot of people will say, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know where that was, I was looking for it,’” Skorich said of the prohibited items. Howell said this is especially common with loose ammunition. His tip: don’t travel with the same bag you take to the gun range.
Howell said planning ahead is the best way to avoid longer lines and added complications.
“Take five minutes before you come to the airport, do a quick sweep of what you have in your bag and on your person and you’re really going to streamline the process for everyone,” he said.
A list of items prohibited by the TSA is available at tsa.gov