A passenger attempted to bring this machete through security at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in 2021. (Courtesy TSA)

TSA’s Top 10 Catches in 2021: You Won’t Believe No. 1

On a typical day, the Transportation Security Administration stops hundreds of banned items from being carried onto planes across the country.

Usually, it’s multitools—like a Swiss Army Knife—pepper spray or regular-sized shampoo bottles. Common and fairly innocuous items people forget they have on them. Nearly 6,000 times in 2021, unfortunately, it was a gun.

But sometimes, the TSA discovers an item in a category all their own.

Each year, the agency releases its “Top 10 Catches”: the most unusual banned (and sometimes outright illegal) possessions that passengers attempted to bring onto a plane.

At No. 10 this year: a handful of ammunition stored in a deodorant bottle caught at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY). Bit of an odd way to carry bullets.

In September, Transportation Security Administration officials found six bullets lodged inside a deodorant stick when a traveler passed through security at Atlantic City International Airport. (Courtesy TSA)

At No. 9, an Old West-style revolver caught at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). We’re still not sure why anyone brings a gun in their carry-on luggage, even an antique like this one.

A passenger attempted to bring this antique gun onto a flight Saturday, Aug. 22, 2021 at Newark Liberty International Airport. (Courtesy TSA)

Coming in at No. 8, we have a creative attempt at drug smuggling, with meth stashed in a  breakfast burrito. Kudos to the TSA officers at Hobby International Airport in Houston (HOU) for spotting this.

A bag of crystal meth was found in this breakfast burrito during a screening at Hobby International Airport in Houston on April 2, 2021, officials say. (Courtesy TSA)

No. 7: a clever attempt to circumvent the rules at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu with a Derringer-style pistol hidden in a belt buckle. Still a gun, still illegal.

The Transportation Security Administration seized a .22-caliber, one-shot pistol used as a belt buckle at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in April. (Courtesy TSA)

A bit grisly at No. 6: a well-used cleaver found at Harrisburg International Airport (MDT). We’re not sure who thought they’d be operating a butcher shop on an airplane, but a knife’s a knife, and they aren’t allowed.

This cleaver was confiscated at Harrisburg International Airport at some point in 2021. (Courtesy TSA)

No. 5 was a canister of bear spray caught at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS). We can sort of understand this one—it doesn’t seem like a lethal weapon—but it falls into the same category as pepper spray. And in fact, bear spray isn’t even allowed in checked luggage. Just buy it at your destination or ship it.

This bear repellant spray was seized at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport in 2021. (Courtesy TSA)

At No. 4, a machete seized at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). This is just dumb. (Bonus points for the loaded gun magazine and canister of butane also seized.)

A passenger attempted to bring this machete through security at Reagan National Airport in 2021. (Courtesy TSA)

At No. 3: a stash of fireworks discovered in a carry-on at Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR). They may be intended for fun, but explosives are always a no-go on commercial flights.

A batch of fireworks found in a passenger’s carry-on luggage at Syracuse Hancock International Airport in 2021. (Courtesy TSA)

No. 2 was a wine holder made out of two revolvers and confiscated at Sacramento International Airport (SMF). It doesn’t matter if they’re real or fake—neither are allowed on flights.

A wine holder found by Transportation Security Administration officers at Sacramento International Airport. (Courtesy TSA)

And at No. 1, at the top of the list, drumroll, please  …

A chainsaw seized by Transportation Security Administration officers at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. (Courtesy TSA)

A chainsaw?! Seriously? Guys, come on.

We’d love to see the look on the TSA officer’s face at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) in New Orleans when this came through the scanner. It feels ridiculous to have to say this, but here goes:

Don’t bring a chainsaw on a plane.

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