The Best of the TSA Instagram

But why?


by Dave Robson

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The TSA’s Instagram is surprisingly popular. Why? It’s a rundown of all the banned stuff they find every day, from knives to guns to wildlife to even stranger things.

. . . Eels?

Fun fact: both airport security and customs spend a lot more time looking for wildlife and food than drugs and weapons.

View this post on Instagram

It’s #TBT time, and we thought we’d give a shout out to our good friends at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (@USFWS). If you love wildlife, you’ll love their account! … The following pictures are from when officers discovered smuggled wildlife in luggage. When we find animals being smuggled, we contact the USFWS who respond to the scene. … Eels!!! The eels were discovered in 2012 in a checked bag at the Miami International Airport (MIA). Among many other things, the traveler was attempting to transport 163 marine tropical fish and 22 invertebrates to Maracaibo. The passenger surrendered the items to the USFWS. One could say this was a really good catch. ???? … Snake In a hard drive! Discovered earlier this year, a traveler on her way from MIA to Barbados attempted to smuggle a snakelet inside of an external hard drive. The USFWS responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight. As we said in our original post, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking. … Bottled Seahorses. There’s nothing funny about dead seahorses. In 2012, an oversized bottle of liquor was detected in a carry-on bag at Detroit (DTW). Not only was the large bottle of liquor prohibited, but so were the five dead endangered seahorses inside the bottle. … Smuggling is not for the birds! Two birds were discovered during a pat-down in 2011 at LAX. They were wrapped in socks and taped to the leg and chest of a woman who was traveling to China. The USFWS responded and arrested the woman on suspicion of smuggling and exporting an endangered species out of the United States. … Snakes almost on a plane! In August 2011 at MIA, seven small snakes stuffed in nylon stockings were discovered in a traveler’s pants after being screened in a body scanner. In addition to the snakes, he also had three small turtles [Insert inappropriate jokes here]. The USFWS officers arrived on the scene and took custody of the reptiles. The passenger was arrested and charged with violating the Lacey Act. … #TSA #USFWS #SnakesAlmostOnAPlane ???? ???? ✈️ @usinterior

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on

Oh, and Endangered Seahorses

We’re not sure why one needs an endangered seahorse, especially given that all the possibilities we can think of won’t work after the seahorses have been marinated in cognac.

Fun With Sickles

But how else will ye olde medieval peasants get to Minnesota for the harvest?!

Replica Dynamite

To be clear: it isn’t that replica dynamite is illegal, it’s that there’s no way of knowing that the dynamite isn’t real until checking with explosives professionals.

Why Wouldn’t You Check Your Meat Slicer?

Look, we too have had a hankering for a charcuterie board midway over Illinois. That’s why we put it together the night before and shrink wrap it.

Lobsters Are Actually Allowed, Though

The TSA just wants you to check with them and your airline about packing regulations. Otherwise they need to stop the line and investigate. And take pictures with Mr. Pinchy here.

So Many Guns & Knives

Literally ever day on TSA Instagram is like a visit to the basement of your saddest uncle.

View this post on Instagram

Have we mentioned that knives and guns are not allowed in carry-on bags? I'm pretty sure that we have, but I can be forgetful sometimes. Speaking of forgetful, 79 people forgot that they had firearms in their carry-on bags last week. Follow the link in our profile and head on over to the TSA blog for more details on all 79 firearms. … While firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags, you can pack them in your checked baggage as long as you meet the packing guidelines at … As a refresher, carry-on bags go into the cabin of the plane with you. Checked bags go into the cargo hold of the plane where passengers have no access. … When firearms are discovered at the checkpoint, we contact law enforcement and they decide what happens based on background checks, interviews and local laws. … A firearm at the checkpoint could lead to fines, arrests, missed flights or all of the above. As far as what happens to confiscated firearms, that's up to each local police department. … All knives no matter how miniscule are not allowed in carry-on bags. Please pack them in your checked bags. That goes for you too, #Naruto.

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on


They’re not looking for your weed . . . but a bag that size is hard to miss.

View this post on Instagram

This bag of marijuana was discovered inside of a microwave oven that was being transported via checked baggage at Anchorage (ANC). We’re not looking for drugs, but when discovered, our officers must notify the police. … The toast setting is located between the baked potato and pizza buttons. … Under Federal law and many State laws, it’s a crime to possess or transport any detectable amount of marijuana.  TSA does not have any regulations that address the possession or transportation of marijuana and cannabis infused products, such as CBD oil.  However, our officers are required to notify law enforcement if they discover marijuana, or other items that are illegal under State and Federal laws while screening you and your accessible property. … Having a State-issued cannabis card or other documentation indicating that the marijuana is for medical purposes does not exempt you from TSA’s requirement to notify law enforcement.  It is up to the responding officer, not TSA, to determine if possession of the marijuana is authorized under State law, or whether to make an arrest or confiscate the item if it is illegal.

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on

Tacticool Klingon Stuff

It’s not that the TSA hates Klingons, it’s that they’re sticklers for canon and don’t want this mall ninja trash polluting the upcoming convention.

However . . .

But why are they doing this? Well, many of the posts have a bit of a PSA quality about them, but we suspect the primary reason behind taking to Instagram is image sanitization. While the TSA’s social media presence is very popular, the TSA themselves are wildly unpopular. Does their content marketing strategy help with that unpopularity? Probably not. But it does help people understand what they do.

Next week, we’re talking about police content marketing strategies and their effectiveness.