Think you could get away with sneaking that exotic fruit from vacation along on your flight? Think again. Nothing is worse than watching helplessly as the TSA agent pulls the precious cargo out of your carry-on and tosses it in their bin of confiscated items. So long for now, sweet souvenir. (Maybe you should have tried the prohibited items least likely to get confiscated by the TSA, instead.)
“The most common explanation we hear from travelers for prohibited items is: ‘I forgot it was in my bag,'” the TSA blog notes. “Don’t be that person. Save yourself some money and embarrassment and thoroughly check your bags for prohibited items before heading to the airport.” You might be surprised by what TSA allows you to carry on and doesn’t. Chicken wings, for example, are OK to carry on. That herb grinder shaped like a grenade? Not so much.
But don’t give up hope yet! You may be able to recover your confiscated treasures. The government has strict rules it must follow for disposing of confiscated property, USA Today reports. Some airports have contractors pick the property up or donate it. And states also sell confiscated items that aren’t illegal.
Travel expert Julie McCool says that on a return trip from Ireland, TSA didn’t allow a snow globe her son bought as a souvenir. “He was so upset that I took the time to take the snow globe apart and dump out the water inside,” she says. “Unfortunately, I was never able to reassemble the globe back at home.”
Most people who encounter this situation choose to abandon the item because it’s usually something unimportant, McCool notes.
But if there’s an item you’ve got your heart set on recovering, there are some places you can search. On Govdeals.com, state agencies sell surplus or confiscated goods via a bidding system. Items delivered from the TSA often include pocket knives, corkscrews, and bottle openers—along with any of the oddest things the TSA have confiscated. Simply search under the category of your missing item and cross your fingers that it shows up. You may have to shell out a few bucks to recover it, but that certainly beats getting a new one if it’s special to you.
And don’t worry; the TSA isn’t selling your belongings for a profit. After an outside contractor removes the “contraband” from the airport, states then purchase the confiscated items and resell them online for some extra cash. Another good place to search is USA.gov, where you can search for surplus sales by state.
Can’t find your long-lost item on the Internet? Try a nearby surplus center, another place where items from lost or confiscated luggage end up.
But if you’re attempting to recover an expensive shampoo or bottle of wine, we have some bad news: The TSA immediately tosses all confiscated liquids. Lesson learned! Make sure you’re not making any of these airport mistakes before your next flight, too.