TSA spokesman Mark Howell advised travelers to check their carry-ons for prohibited items, including more than 3.4 oz. of liquids, knives and blades, self-defense items like pepper sprays and stun guns, anything that can be used as a bludgeon including dumbbells and hammers.
Among the more unusual prohibited items collected at Hartsfield-Jackson checkpoints in recent weeks: A cricket bat, a replica grenade, a nail gun and jumper cables.
Also caught and prohibited: A trailer hitch, a throwing star, a kitchen cleaver and a cabinet-shaped snow globe.
Those are among the hundreds of pounds of items caught at the checkpoints at the world’s busiest airport in the last month.
Heavy volumes of passengers seen over the summer haven’t abated much this fall, according to TSA. Travelers have encountered recent wait times of 40 minutes during peak times, and 20 minutes in TSA PreCheck lines.
“When you have a lot of prohibited items, especially in these heavy volume periods, you’re gonna see wait times grow,” Howell said.
Many items prohibited in carry-ons can be packed in checked luggage. TSA’s website has a guide for what is permitted in carry-ons and checked bags.
Law enforcement handles guns caught at the checkpoint, while passengers have the option to put prohibited items in their checked bags. Otherwise, they surrender them to TSA, which transfers liquids to a company for disposal and hands off other prohibited items to the state of Alabama’s surplus property division.
An exception is firearms, which are handled by law enforcement.
An average of more than one firearm a day is caught at an Atlanta airport checkpoint, according to TSA. The number of guns caught at Hartsfield-Jackson is more than any other airport in the nation so far this year.
It’s yet to be seen if the number of guns caught at Hartsfield-Jackson will surpass the record set in 2021, when 507 firearms were detected at the Atlanta airport. That year, the rate of guns caught at airport security checkpoints in Georgia for the volume of passengers was more than double the national rate, according to the TSA.o
“Some people just get used to having their gun with them all the time. They head out the door with their keys, wallet, their cell phone and their gun,” Howell said. But, “you’ve really got to flip that mindset when you’re coming to the airport.”
Travelers headed to Hartsfield-Jackson should allow extra time to:
- Check carry-ons for prohibited items
- Navigate through highway traffic and congested airport roadways
- Find a place to park — Many airport parking lots and decks reach capacity during busy periods
- Check bags — Some airline check-in lines stretch down airport corridors during busy periods
- Wait in line for security, with recent wait times of 40 minutes during busy periods, and 20 minutes for PreCheck
- Take the Plane Train or walk to your concourse and gate