BILLINGS - A call to action for travelers eager to get back on a plane this spring and summer after a year of airline restrictions -- be sure you know what items are prohibited before entering security.
“We see something every single day,” said Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) spokeswoman Lorie Dankers. She says those items include sharp blades, blunt objects, tools, ammo, and some of the craziest things you’ve maybe heard of.
“Sometimes we find very odd things,” she said. “People have been known to bring things like a container full of gasoline, which is highly flammable. There’s no need for that on the plane.”
Dankers says agents often shake their heads in amazement at what folks will try to tote on a plane, "people have been known to bring things like chainsaws to the checkpoint."
In order to get people back into the flying mindset, there’s a push to remind travelers of what is prohibited. “Despite the fact that local laws across the country vary, for TSA firearms should never come to the checkpoint,” Dankers said.
TSA agents revealed in recent weeks that four guns were found by agents at the security checkpoint, which is, of course, illegal to bring in carry-on luggage. “Over a three-week period from mid-March to early April, TSA officers at this airport in Billings found three firearms in a traveler's carry-on luggage,” said Dankers.
But that’s not all. Dankers showed items sprawled out on a table, including power tools, hammers, self-defense items like cat eyes, ammo, knives, and blades.
“I always like to picture myself or my daughter or my husband sitting next to somebody,” she said. “You know, you just wouldn't want to see that. And so that's why these rules are in place.”
In recent years, the amount of those items is staggering, with as many as 350 pounds of prohibited items confiscated at security in 2018 and while that amount dipped in 2020 due to the pandemic, Dankers anticipates it's set to increase again.
“We're planning to move right now into a very busy summer travel season. We know there's a pent-up travel demand,” she said. “We know that with more people getting vaccinated, they want to travel more. They're going to be traveling this summer and we expect to see a record-breaking summer as compared to 2019.”
Dankers says there’s no reason travelers shouldn’t already know what’s allowed in the cabin of a plane. “Ask yourself - a little critical thinking - should I bring this in my carry-on luggage, or should I check it?”
She noted the rules for what not to bring are straightforward, "anything longer than seven inches is not allowed, anything with a blade is not allowed,” Dankers said. “And as a traveler, you've gone through the security process you follow the rules and you want to make sure those around you do, and that's how these items end up on the table.”
In addition to blades and tools, Dankers wants to remind travelers that there are no corkscrews with blades allowed in carry-ons as well.