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6 farm items that raised TSA eyebrows in airport security


Ag people are busy people, and the hustle and bustle of traveling from rural areas to the airport ensuring everything is taken care of at home can earn us some interesting interactions with airport security.

For example, while on a recent business trip, I realized that I had accidentally smuggled an aerosol can after traveling from a major Texas airport to Michigan. This item probably should have earned me a trip aside and a pat-down by the Transportation Security Administration, yet somehow they glanced over this particular item.

While I threw my aerosol can away before traveling home, this packing blunder had me laughing about previous items I had accidentally brought to the airport as a woman in agriculture. 

1. Knives — lots of knives

I had the opportunity upon relocating to New Mexico to work for a feed company centrally owned by a larger syndicate in Nebraska. I never carry a purse, except for holding odd things that I don’t want sliding around my pickup. At the time, some of those items were — very literally — half a dozen pocket knives.

Grabbing my purse last minute and not thinking about its contents, I inevitably got pulled aside by airport security, patted down (while the airport security guard laughed at me), and was told that I could take my knives back to my vehicle and try again. Kudos to El Paso airport security for keeping us all safe while humoring my feed-rep knife-hoarding habit. I’m not sure I would’ve gotten the same treatment by airport security in a place like Philadelphia or San Francisco.

Image by vzwer, Shutterstock

2. Used and new syringes — all types of needles

I’m proudly certified under the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program. We can discuss the merits of proper animal health, and judicious antibiotic use in a later post, but the fact of the matter is that when you’re in the middle of calving season, you’re going to be doing some doctoring.

I’ll admit that when running on minimal time and sleep, my disposal of syringes isn’t probably as good as it should be. TSA in Albuquerque was far from humored by my faux pas. While I’m sure, the airport sees plenty of medically exempt items, the menagerie of syringes ranging from 5 ml to 60 ml, some with 1.5-inche needles, was far less amusing to the security personnel this time. 

Image by Billion Photos, Shutterstock

3. Fencing pliers

Yes, I’m not sure how, but I’ve managed to take fencing pliers to the airport in Billings. Running behind while traveling alone with a 1-year-old baby in Montana winter temps, one of my favorite pairs had been stashed in my winter Carhartt jacket.

While the TSA didn’t give me a hard time, they threw away my pliers. Apparently, the usefulness of fencing pliers does not apply to an airplane.

Image by RaGS2, Shutterstock

4. Cow cake

I still remember the time before the TSA was as good about reminding you to empty your pockets. Somehow, I was again traveling during a Montana winter in Great Falls and earned myself a pat-down with bags full of cow cake.

Surprisingly, they let me have my cake — though I did not eat it either.

Image courtesy of AC Nutrition

5. Spurs

An old cowboy told me in high school to always travel with boots and spurs because you never know when you might be able to go ride. This has earned me a pull-aside bag search in Phoenix and a few other airports. Thankfully, they’ve always let me keep my spurs.

6. Saddles

As a kid, I used to fly back and forth between Arizona and New Mexico in the summers. Usually, I brought my saddle along for the flight. Thankfully, I had a padded case that made checking this odd bag easier, but it was always interesting trying to convince airport personnel that they could, in fact, check a saddle — and I always got it back at the baggage claim when I landed.

Photo by Doyne and Margaret Loyd, Shutterstock

I’m sure it won’t be the last time I bring something unconventional to the airport with me, despite how hard I may try to ensure that I’ve gone through my belongings beforehand. I’m incredibly thankful for the care TSA takes to ensure passenger safety on airplanes and that they’ve never taken it upon themselves to do more than give me a stern talking.

These blunders have, however, provided something funny to laugh about during my travels (at least, after I’ve gotten done crying over lost pliers!). 

Heidi Crnkovic is the Associate Editor for AGDAILY. She is a New Mexico native with deep-seated roots in the Southwest and a passion for all things agriculture.

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Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.