There are few things more mind-boggling than the list of unusual items people have attempted to take through airport security: a 20-pound live lobster, 450 tamales, bear repellent, and about 70 loaded firearms every week — just to name a few.
And, luckily for us, the bizarre exploits are all documented on social media by Bob Burns, AKA the man behind the TSA Instagram account.
On Monday morning, Burns sat down for an “Ask Me Anything”-style interview about how the TSA Instagram account has grown since it started in 2011.
Over the past six years, the account went from a following of zero people to a top-rated Instagram humor account with more than 820,000 followers.
“People don’t come to a government Instagram account and expect to see humor,” Burns said. “They also don’t expect to see these crazy things that people are trying to bring on a plane.”
Burns confirmed that every post on the Instagram account is a real item somebody actually tried to take through security. Nothing is staged.
In order to select the outrageous materials that show up on the Instagram account, Burns rummages through the TSA incident reports to find the most humorous items. Burns will also take unusual screenshots from passengers’ exchanges with the AskTSA Twitter and Facebook Messenger services.
Burns, who started out as a TSA officer at airports, knows the security process and is adroit at explaining what actually happens behind the scenes. For example, very few of the unusual items actually end up as TSA property. “We don’t confiscate anything, we give travelers options,” Burns explained. The only exception is with firearms, in which case, police take over.
And while the account may be entertaining, Burns said that its true mission is to “inform the traveling public on what they can and cannot bring.”
We suggest checking the account before packing up your more unusual holiday presents.