Why Does TSA Throw Away Travelers’ Items?
Sometimes, even the most frequent travelers fail to check their carry-ons for TSA (Transportation Security Administration) prohibited items. The security checkpoints at airports are designed to ensure that only permitted things are allowed through. You’ve certainly asked at some point, “What does the TSA truly do with those prohibited items?” whether it’s a bottle of water, a tube of toothpaste, or an ancient hunting knife. Read on to find out!
SO, WHY DOES TSA THROW AWAY ITEMS?
The TSA must throw away the items since it has no means of knowing if they have been tampered with. Contrary to popular perception, TSA personnel do not keep any of the “Voluntarily Abandoned Property” for themselves. The government has no tolerance for such conduct, and personnel detected keeping the confiscated property for themselves are subject to immediate termination.
The TSA must decide what to do with each item, but how do they do that? The answer is that much depends on the specifics of the items in question. Water, soda, shampoo, other liquids, and sometimes even travel-size perfumes are thrown away without being asked.
Some things are eventually sold. The TSA is prohibited by law from making money off abandoned items, while other government organizations are permitted. The TSA can give potentially valuable items to “surplus centers,” where customers can buy products. Or they can wind up on websites like GovDeals that host online auctions. Any revenues go straight to the state that assisted in organizing the sales. The remainder of the seized goods is probably donated to businesses that can sell or use them.
CAN I GET MY CONFISCATED ITEMS BACK?
Given the number of possible locations where your confiscated stuff might end up, one thing is certain: recovering those items can be difficult. But, if you have anything confiscated and it is not illegal, there are several things you can do to keep it in your possession.
If you are denied entry to the airport due to bringing in prohibited food or toiletries, you can include them in your checked luggage. Many airports provide a shipping services area where you can buy boxes, envelopes, and stamps to send packages directly to your home or office.
You might also leave the belongings with a friend or family member who came to the airport to say goodbye and have them sent back to you. You could also leave it in your locked car in the terminal’s parking area.
MOST COMMONLY CONFISCATED ITEMS
The TSA reports that liquids in containers greater than 3.4 ounces are the most frequently seized items during security checks. This includes perfumes, bottled water, alcohol, shampoo, soda, soap, and sunscreen. Make sure your checked luggage contains your large liquids so you can keep them safe. If you carry perfume, ensure they meet the TSA carry-on bag requirements. The best way is to have it in your checked bag, even if it’s a travel-size perfume.
Agents frequently come across pocket knives and keychain knives, among other TSA-seized items. The government seized over 5,000 legal weapons in 2021, including huge knives and pistols.
WHAT CAN YOU BRING WITH YOU?
If you prepare for your trip in advance and pack sensibly, you’ll breeze through airport security. Review TSA’s regulations about prohibited items before heading to the airport so you know exactly what you can bring and what must be left behind. Objects that trigger an alert during screening, look tampered with or raise other security issues may be subject to additional inspection or be denied entry through the checkpoint even though they are permitted in principle.
THE BOTTOM LINE!
TSA personnel observed several wild things trying to board flights in 2021. Of course, the chainsaw made the headline. But they also seized fireworks, an old gun, bear spray, a bullet-filled deodorant, and — chef’s kiss — a burrito filled with crystal meth. There are many regulations to obey the next time you air travel, but this one should be simple to recollect: Never pack illegal substances or weapons in your luggage.