10 Strange Items the TSA Found in People's Luggage in 2018

iStock.com/AzmanL
iStock.com/AzmanL

Every year, the TSA screens about 700 million travelers across nearly 450 airports. That’s more than 2 million passengers each day. And while most people pass through security checkpoints without incident, a handful of travelers are stopped every day—sometimes for attempting to lug some truly bizarre items to their departing gate.

Thanks to the TSA’s Webby-winning Instagram account—made famous by the agency’s late social media guru Bob Burns, who passed away in October—officials have kept track of the wackier things airport security agents saw in 2018.

1. A Python in a Hard Drive

A traveler bound for Barbados apparently thought it was a good idea to reenact Snakes on a Plane when they socked this ball python into a nylon stocking, hiding it inside an external hard drive. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service swooped in to take the critter.

2. A Fake Bomb

It might resemble something Wile E. Coyote would have concocted—and it may be 100 percent fake—but it’s still not allowed through security at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Anything that remotely resembles a weapon will cause intense security checks. (In this case, the security checkpoint was closed for 19 minutes, inconveniencing countless passengers.)

3. Firecrackers

Please excuse this brief announcement: Don’t carry firecrackers—or anything else that goes "boom"—in your hand luggage. Especially a brand that has the word “Killer” in it.

4. Wedding-Themed Hand Grenades

We’ll let the TSA's Instagram account explain why these are a bad idea: “When our officers spot a potential explosive on the monitor, they cannot just open the bag and take a looksee to find out if it’s real or not. A TSA explosives specialist or a police department bomb squad must respond before the bag is ever opened. This can lead to costly evacuations, delays, and missed flights. These types of items can also lead to hefty fines and arrest. Contact your preferred shipper about your options, because they can’t travel via commercial aircraft. So even though they aren’t real, they can cause a lot of headaches.”

5. Freddy Krueger’s Hand

There is no loophole around the TSA’s knife policy: You may not bring any knives in your carry-on. You especially can’t bring them if they’re affixed to your fingertips. As the TSA elaborates, “While worn out fedoras and tattered green and red sweaters are discouraged in the fashion world, they are permitted at TSA checkpoints.” (You may stow a knife in your checked luggage.)

6. Giant Scissors

Unlike knives, scissors are allowed in your carry-on luggage—as long as they are shorter than four inches from the fulcrum. These ceremonial ribbon-cutting scissors found at Nashville International Airport didn’t make the cut.

7. A Phony IED

This fake improvised explosive device caused six checkpoint lanes to close at Newark Liberty International Airport. The TSA later learned that “the man carrying the IED in his carry-on bag was traveling to Florida to participate in a training event focused on X-ray detection of explosive devices.” Thankfully, the agents already had their training.

8. Bullet-Shaped Whiskey Stones

It’s OK to transport a gun and ammunition on a flight as long as it’s properly stored in checked luggage. But placing it in your carry-on is a big no-no. In 2017, the TSA discovered nearly 4000 firearms at security checkpoints—most of them loaded—and that number is expected to rise when 2018’s numbers are finally tabulated. To say the least, the TSA is strict when it comes to anything that remotely resembles a weapon. That’s why these ammunition-shaped whiskey stones (usually used to chill a drink without watering it down) weren’t allowed.

9. An Inert Mortar Round

People try to bring inert weapons of war, like this mortar found at Evansville Regional Airport, through the security checkpoint more than you think. (Case in point: Somebody tried bringing rocket launchers through Hawaii’s Lihue Airport.) When security officials spot something like this, they have to bring in explosives experts to ensure the device is actually inert. Delays ensue. So just leave your faux bombs at home.

10. A Live Cat

There are proper ways to transport your pet to your destination. Haphazardly stuffing your furry friend into your checked luggage is not one of them. At Erie International Airport, a security screener discovered this kitty (named Slim) stowed in a Florida couple's checked baggage. Slim was turned over to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania. The couple, meanwhile, was charged with animal cruelty.

To see our 2017 roundup of the TSA’s strangest finds, click here.

Highclere Castle—the Real-Life Downton Abbey—Is Available to Rent on Airbnb

Highclere Castle, used as the setting for Downton Abbey
Highclere Castle, used as the setting for Downton Abbey
Emily_M_Wilson/iStock via Getty Images

Have you ever wanted to spend a night in a castle? And not just any castle—the Downton Abbey castle, Highclere Castle? On November 26, one lucky couple will get the opportunity to relive the TV show and movie, when castle owners Lady and Lord Carnarvon will cordially invite one person and their guest of choice to spend the night in the castle, which is located in Hampshire, England—about 45 miles west of London. On October 1 (Airbnb reservations go live at noon BST) anyone with a verified profile, positive reviews, and passion for Downton Abbey can vie for the opportunity. Even though the castle has 300 rooms, they are only making one bedroom available, for $159.

Upon arrival, the royals will host cocktails with the guests in the saloon. Visitors will hear stories from more than 300 years of Highclere Castle history (construction on the castle began in 1679, and has been in the Carnarvon family ever since).

“I am passionate about the stories and heritage of Highclere Castle and I am delighted to be able to share it with others who have a love of the building and its history,” Lady Carnarvon said in the Airbnb listing.

The Earl and Countess will host a dinner for the guests in the state dining room, and afterwards have coffee in the library. Before bed, the guests’ butler will escort them to their gallery bedroom. The next morning, guests will receive a complimentary breakfast, a private tour of the 100,000-square foot castle and 1000-acre grounds, and a special gift from the Carnarvons. (Airbnb will also make a donation to The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.)

It should be noted the castle doesn’t have Wi-Fi or central air, but it does have fireplaces and central heat. There are a few rules guests must follow, though: all newspapers must be ironed; one butler per person; cocktail dress is required at dinner; gossip is restricted to downstairs; the listing is midweek because, as the Dowanger once said, “What is a weekend?”

If you don’t win the opportunity to stay at Highclere, all is not lost: you can tour the castle year-round.

The 25 Best Places to Live in America

Robin Zeigler/iStock via Getty Images
Robin Zeigler/iStock via Getty Images

It's impossible to please everyone with a list of great places to live. Some people prefer big cities, while others may be looking for a quieter place to escape to. The qualities people value in a location—like affordability, culture, and safety—also vary from person to person. But when it comes to diverse options, MONEY magazine's annual list of the 100 best places to live in the U.S. has something for everyone. Its list for 2019 includes towns, urban neighborhoods, and mid-sized cities in all regions of the country.

To compile this year's list of the best places to live, MONEY only looked at places that met certain criteria. The locations on the list all have populations of 50,000 or more. For cities where the population exceeds 300,000, the publication chose individual neighborhoods with 5000 to 200,000 residents to rank. Spots with more than double the national crime risk, less than 85 percent its state's median household income, and little ethnic diversity were automatically removed from consideration.

Of the 1796 places that met those standards, MONEY chose 100 that excelled in areas like housing, education, cost of living, diversity, income, safety, and amenities. In what seemed like a surprise to some, Clarksville, Tennessee, came out on top. The city, which is home to about 160,000 people, boasts a growing economy, a thriving small business scene, and an affordable housing market. It's also located less than an hour from Nashville. Clarksville was followed by Round Rock, Texas, in the second slot and Fishers, Indiana, coming in at number three.

It wasn't just towns and mid-sized cities that made the list. Neighborhoods in the biggest cities in America were also named some of the best places to live, including the Fulton River District in Chicago, Illinois (No. 4), and Ditmas Park in Brooklyn, New York (No. 11).

You can check out the top 25 locations from MONEY's list below and see the full list of 100 here. If you'd like to broaden your living options even further, here are the safest cities to live around the world.

  1. Clarksville, Tennessee

  1. Round Rock, Texas

  1. Fishers, Indiana

  1. Fulton River District in Chicago, Illinois

  1. Country Club Heights in Charlotte, North Carolina

  1. Draper, Utah

  1. Bentonville, Arkansas

  1. Madison, Wisconsin

  1. Meridan, Idaho

  1. Winter Garden, Florida

  1. Ditmas Park in Brooklyn, New York

  1. Redmond, Washington

  1. Pearl in Portland, Oregon

  1. Dranesville, Virginia

  1. Rochester, Minnesota

  1. Johns Creek, Georgia

  1. Charleston, South Carolina

  1. Irvine, California

  1. Iowa City, Iowa

  1. Columbia, Maryland

  1. Spring Valley, Nevada

  1. Goodyear, Arizona

  1. LoDo in Denver, Colorado

  1. O'Fallon, Missouri

  1. Shawnee, Kansas

[h/t MONEY]

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