Romulus — Switchblades, large scissors, tweezers, blender blades, gardening tools and dental equipment were just some of the items revoked and abandoned by some of the 12 million passengers screened at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in 2017.
Nearly 19,500 items were left behind by passengers at Detroit Metro last year, including roughly $21,000 in loose change, according to federal transportation officials.
Transportation Security Administration spokesman Michael McCarthy said some of the most common items were sharp blades and knives.
“We had thousands of pounds of these items,” said McCarthy at a press gathering Thursday. “We want to show what’s prohibited because when we catch these items, it’s really going to slow down the process for you.
“We’ll have to take your bag aside for a secondary bag search and give the passenger a range of options.”
McCarthy said traveling students often take unusual looking science projects and are flagged by security.
But the oddest item found in recent years was a Samurai sword left in 2013.
“We put a photo up on Facebook, and we had so many people calling in saying that was theirs,” he said.
When prohibited items are found, travelers are either offered to add it to checked luggage, return the item to their vehicles, hand the items to non-traveling companions or abandon it to the TSA.
TSA discovered more than 6,500 pounds of prohibited items, which included 48 firearms in carry-on luggage at Metro, up by about 10 from 2016, McCarthy said.
“We’d like to see that number at zero or at least declining, so reminding passengers there’s a right and wrong way to travel with a firearm is the goal,” he said.
He said check with the airline, make sure it doesn’t have specific regulations and pack the firearm in a hard-sided container, unloaded and declare it to the airline in checked luggage.
Nationwide, TSA discovered more than 4,000 firearms compared to 3,300 in 2016. If a firearm is found in carry-on luggage, local law enforcement is contacted and passengers receive a civil violation ranging up to $9,800.
McCarthy said the second most popular item revoked at checkpoints is oversized liquids. But money is most often left behind.
“When people empty their pockets, they usually rush to pick up everything from the bin and leave behind change,” he said.
Liquid limitations are 3.4 ounces for carry-on luggage, unless medically necessary and McCarthy suggests bringing an empty water bottle to fill up once passengers go through security.
Prohibited items are sent to the State of Michigan and as for the money recovered, it will be sent to the U.S. Treasury.
Dameon Gabriel, who was traveling back to Detroit from North Carolina on Thursday, said he skims the ban list and has never personally been stopped but has been with people who have.
“My father-in-law was stopped for a wine cork and lighter he had in his carry-on on our last trip, and my friend was once stopped for a gun she brought with her on a red-eye flight,” said Gabriel, 38, of Detroit. “They just asked to see her CPO license and let her check it. I’m not surprised though, and sometimes people are first-time flyers so they wouldn’t know.”
Passengers can call (734) 942-3126 for items left behind.