TSA Shows the Strange and Scary Items Found at the Eastern Iowa Airport

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter


By Forrest Saunders

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – If you think the strange and scary things found in carry-on luggage at airports are limited to the largest cities, think again.

The Transportation Security Administration estimates they find about 13 pounds of prohibited stuff at the Eastern Iowa Airport, each month.

TSA officials said a lot of those banned items are large containers of liquid like hair-care products, bug sprays and drinks. Though, sometimes it’s much weirder like saw blades, drill bits and large weights.

Ryan Bettcher, a TSA officer at the Eastern Iowa Airport, remembers once meeting a passenger who was trying to bring a science project through security.

"The weirdest one I've ever seen… a mason jar of full of formaldehyde that had a baby shark inside of it," said Bettcher.

A wide variety of weapons are found in carry-on luggage. TSA officials said Eastern Iowa passengers have tried carrying on throwing stars, brass knuckles, police batons, and mace.

Jay Brainard, the Federal Security Director for TSA Iowa, said the Cedar Rapids airport typically sees about one firearm each year. In 2013 TSA officers found three.

Brainard thinks a lot of the prohibited items are brought through security by accident. But, he said TSA always takes the situation seriously.

"At end of the day, common sense rules. If something is perceived to be a weapon, such as a pair of brass knuckles, or a large cutting instrument, those types of things really don't have any place on an aircraft," said Brainard.

Brainard said passengers do have options when banned items are discovered. Depending on what the item is, travelers can place it in a checked bag, put it in a parked car, toss it, or voluntarily surrender it to TSA.

If that sounds like a hassle, Brainard said many things can be placed in checked luggage. That includes firearms, provided they’re in an appropriate container, unloaded, and declared to an airline.

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