A Map Of Stupid Things People Have Said To US Airport Security Officials

A Map Of Stupid Things People Have Said To US Airport Security Officials

The first rule of air travel in the modern world is to avoid making jokes about bombs at the security checkpoint, but that doesn’t stop people coming out with comments like “I have a torpedo in my brassiere”. We’ve mapped some of the most ridiculous offenders.

Since October 7 2011, the official blog of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has included a semi-regular ‘People say the darnedest things’ section, noting some of the “inappropriate” comments . The listing doesn’t claim to be exhaustive, but there have been enough comments logged over the past year to make it worth putting them on a map. Click on any city to see what was said, who it was said to, where it happened, a link to the source blog and (in some cases) additional details about what went down. You can also search by airport name.

The vast majority of comments are variations on “I have a bomb in my bag”, but a few do stand out for extra creativity:

  • “If I miss my flight, I will come back and strangle you.”
  • “I hope the residue doesn’t show up on the test.”
  • “I will get on a flight even if I have to blow up the airport and call myself a terrorist.”
  • “I very well could have two bombs in my breasts.”
  • “Do you want me to put my explosive belt on top of my explosive shoes?”
  • “I have a torpedo in my brassiere.”
  • “Why are you harassing this innocent woman when you just let me through with a tube of plastic explosives?”
  • “You better check me close, I am about to blow.”

The obvious objection to stopping people who say “I have a bomb” is that anyone who was planning a terrorist attack would be highly unlikely to publicise the fact. Nonetheless, these kinds of remarks do put security scanners (who in the US are already busy enough detecting loaded firearms) in a no-win situation. If they pay extra attention to people who make those remarks, they’re killjoys. If they ignore them and a bomb does end up on a plane, they’ll be accused of not doing their job. The result: humourlessness wins.

It’s also evident that the TSA (and similar agencies) do recognise that other factors are often at play. Consider this example (which isn’t on our map as no location was specified):

You can imagine the officer’s surprise when a man walked up to them at the travel document checking area and stated “I have eight bombs on me.” The police report stated that the passenger “may” have been intoxicated.

There’s no equivalent official source tracking similar comments in Australia, but the same approach is definitely in place. If you want to get through airport security speedily, wisecracks aren’t the way to go. You might think that’s a stupid rule, but you ignore it at your peril.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman is never in any mood to joke at airports. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • I’m a circus artist who flies all over the place and, as a professional side effect, doesn’t keep his mouth shut as often as he should.
    Airport one time, Perth I think, there was a sign showing all the banned things to take onboard. One was a lawn mower, so I said to my coperformer “Damn man, no lawnmowers? I better stash mine somewhere… That sucks”
    Woman working there said “You can NOT make jokes about things like that! Make one more and I will bar you from the flight”
    Without hesitation, I said “Ooo, good thing I didn’t say the B word, huh”

    Also, side note, security at airports don’t like being filmed for mockumentaries.

  • Devonport Airport Tasmania you can take anything you want on board (no security checks) however they will get you when you arrive at your destination as they do the security checks there.

    • As a fellow Security guard at T2 Sydney (occasionally T1) we get all sorts of stories and abuse. I laugh it off and I myself make jokes about bombs and prohibited items. Most times (random bomb check) your picking me because I’m Black/Jewish/Arabic/American/Asain’GP. I stop them dead in their tracks, your complaining cus I am white, I flip it and they lose their minds. I really feel sorry for my fellow staff who are new on the floor and don’t know how to deal with such people. Don’t joke about security, I’m here to get payed not to be verbally absued.
      As far as photos or videos are concerned, your not allowed to film or take photos as this is a sterile area (I dare you to try film in the states, you’ll be arrested) but yet here in Sydney PASSANGERS ARE SO DAMN RUDE, think its a casual place to argue and swear. Next time your in T2 keep polite ok?

  • I recently flew from SYD to BNE and they confiscated a CO2 cartridge used for inflating a bicycle tyre. The website says I can carry up to 4 cartridges, but they would not budge.
    The joke is that there is the exact same cartridge in the life vest under every seat, and a couple to spare in the hosties bay.

    • @dave

      Mate honestly, if you stick you the SACL website (the Sydney airport website) and you CHECK IN that bag, there won’t be any problems, having said that we always escalate such issues as CO2 canisters to our team leaders or supervisors whichever is closets. I have seen some team leaders and supervisors let canisters go through the sterile area, it just takes communication at times, even though its a hit and miss really. I am confused as you are Dave, it’s really up to the supervisor to make a call on the item, but having said that if you look at the SACL web site it says it is. We usually tell passengers to check in the entire back where the item was found as it elminates problems for all involved. If there is any other questions please feel free to ask I will do my best to educate or explain.

      T2 security staff

      • Thanks John. Good answer. Yes they did check with their supervisors, but they still said no.
        I actually showed them the website that said I can carry up to 4 cartridges. Still got a “No”.
        I would not have cared except that I use an odd size and the cartridge is threaded. They are hard to obtain, so it hurt to lose one.

    • That can’t happen here in Sydney. We actually monitor cameras and incidents when they occur.

      the states is really messed up, and that’s coming from so many American passengers.

  • I don’t get why saying these things would make you more or less of a target for a bag check or being held for further questioning. If you were going to check them out – check them out, if not laugh it off or tell them “cool I’m just going to interview you for a couple of hours then”.

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