Check yourself before you wreck yourself — and fellow passengers.
More than 50 million passengers pass through JFK each year but not all of their possessions make it on a plane. Each month, hundreds of pounds of souvenirs, lighters, knives and large objects (think hockey sticks) are confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration, said agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
“Every flight, every checkpoint, every day,” Farbstein said. “Your hammer/mallet? Put that in your checked bag. Your 10 pound weight? Put that in your checked bag.”
Aside from obviously illegal items like firearms or explosive materials, people who show up with things like knives or anything large enough to use as a blunt instrument have five options: put it back in the car, give it to someone who isn’t traveling, check it, mail it from the airport (There is a U.S. Postal Service location at JFK), or give it up.
The most commonly confiscated items are knives.
“You see kitchen knives, folding blade knives, swiss army knives, hunting knives, tactical training knives, there’s a BBQ knife, there’s a steak knife,” Farbstein said.
Every few months, confiscated items are boxed up and picked up by Pennsylvania’s state surplus program, which sells off the items in bulk. Pennsylvania keeps the money earned.
“New York doesn’t want to deal with that, so Pennsylvania comes because they know there’s a good haul at LaGuardia ... at JFK,” she said. “They’ll dump a box and they’ll sit there on the counter and go red knife, blue knife, yellow knife, other ... and they make piles.”
Unsure of what to bring to prevent it from ending up at a bulk sale? The TSA’s app has a search function where users can type in a specific item, down to the brand in many cases, and find out if its allowed in their checked or carry-on baggage.
Here’s a look at some unusual items recently picked up at JFK’s security checkpoints:
Unless the name on your passport is "Dennis the Menace," leave the slingshot out of your carry-on items. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
"It appears to be a homemade bow for a Renaissance festival or something, just guessing," Farbstein said. "That's some kind of odd stuff." Remember to check the medieval weaponry next time. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
Unfortunately, preparing a Michelin-quality feast on the airplane tray table in front of you isn't an option. Make sure your sharp kitchen tools are in your checked bags before you go through security. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
This heavy tool may be great for home improvement projects, but it could be used as a bludgeoning object on a plane, so it won't pass TSA security. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
Hopefully there won't be any flies in the cabin of an airplane, but regardless, you can't bring this electronic zapper on board. The manual swatters are allowed. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
This potentially-explosive device is not going to be allowed on a plane at all -- in your checked or carry-on bags. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
This souvenir Bowlmor bowling pin "could be a bludgeoning instrument," said Farbstein. "You could really get clunked on the head with that. Put it in your checked bag with the bowling ball." (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
The world of "Game of Thrones" is cutthroat, but the sharpness of this letter opener makes it unsuitable for an airplane. Put it in your checked bags and keep it for the day when Jon Snow comes knocking. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
Feel free to show the whole plane your signed Matt Harvey baseball, but the bat needs to go in a checked suitcase. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
Leave your NHL dreams at home. Those hockey sticks will never be allowed to board. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
Knives, even cute ones shaped like helicopters or swimming whales, aren't permitted in your carry-on bags. (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
These sneaky weapons come in a variety of shapes and styles. Everything from Swiss Army knives, to credit card knives (where the sharp edge pops out of a thin, credit card-like case) and bottle openers with a knife that folds out are confiscated by the TSA. "There are two types of wine bottle openers in the world: the kind with knives and the kind without," Farbstein said. "Even those little tiny ones -- no knives. No exceptions." (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)
Anything that even resembles a gun isn't going to make it past security. A real, unloaded gun can be put in your checked bags as long they're in a hard-sided container and you tell the airline about them. Replica firearms can go in your checked bag too. "You cannot bring a replica weapon," Farbstein said. "And that's because it could still cause a panic on a plane." (Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)