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Don't Take Snakes on a Plane & Other Packing Tips From Cpt. Obvious

by Margot West

Gearing up for some holiday travel or a big vacation? When you head to the airport, don't forget to pack those bags thoughtfully. Checked baggage costs money and you have to be careful what you try to carry-on. Flying is fast, but you can't just chuck things into your bags the way you might throw a few last minute necessities into your car. If you really want to get your stuff to your final destination intact, sometimes you have to do a little planning and ship it there. We know you're all smart readers and you'd never try to take contraband like this through that TSA checkpoint.


The only gun-shows TSA employees should be checking out on the clock are biceps. Weak? Yeah, maybe a little, but so is bringing a weapon on an airplane. Even a BB gun should be checked, shipped or left home. In the immortal words of so many characters from "A Christmas Story," well, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid." No one want their eye shot out, especially at 30,000 feet. Knives (including machetes) are a no-no, as are brass knuckles, stun guns, grenades and any other explosives.

Yard Tools

One intrepid flyer really needed to get his chainsaw from point A to point B. When said traveler attempted to navigate the security checkpoint in Elmira, New York a problem was discovered. Firstly, who puts a chainsaw in their carry-on? Secondly, it was a gas-powered chain saw. Gas. Powered. With gas in it. Gas, the flammable stuff that explodes in your engine to make your car go. Yes, sir, please take that on an airplane. That's a great idea! (Spoiler alert: it is not a great idea.) The traveler was allowed to check the chainsaw after emptying the gas tank.

Anything Weapon-esque

Have an inert or formerly explosive device? Great, how exciting that is for you. Oh, you want to take it on a plane? Hmmmm, let's think about that. How about you don't. Whether you are a collector or an instructor, please for the love of [insert deity of your choosing here] stop trying to fly with this stuff. When the TSA finds it they have to treat it like it's live ammunition. That slows down your trip through the checkpoint and ruins everyone else's day. You don't want that. And yet, in mid-November this little gem was found at a checkpoint in Tulsa, Oklahoma according to the TSA's own blog.

photo from of TSA blog

Would the word "dummy" scrawled on a claymore (for those of you that don't play "Call of Duty" that's a bomb that explodes in only one direction) make you feel safe when you ran into it at a checkpoint? Probably not, because any criminal or terrorist could write the words "inert" or "dummy" on a live explosive in an attempt to fool people.

In closing, here's a handy tip: do download the MyTSA app for your smartphone to enjoy a "Can I Bring My..." feature and check on wait times for security checkpoints at an airport near you (at least the bigger ones). Safe traveling, friends! And don't be afraid to leave the fireworks at home - or maybe don't buy them in the first place.

Margot West Margot is a real spitfire who takes her traveling and dining seriously. Don't ever try to serve her a merlot and try to pass it off as a cabernet sauvignon. She knows her wines and how to order food in 10 languages.

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