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What not to wear on a plane: Gear that looks like a weapon

July 26, 2013 at 10:52 AM ET

Most air travelers like to accessorize with a cozy scarf and plush neck pillow. But some fliers can’t board a plane without somehow wearing a weapon – or a replica of one – as a fashion statement.

That happened this spring at New York’s La Guardia Airport when security confiscated a pair of black pumps with heels that resembled miniature handguns. The shoes appeared to be a knock-off version of a Chanel pistol-shaped heel famously worn by Madonna a few years ago.

A spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration recently snapped a photo of the illicit heels and tweeted the image with the disclaimer: "Also, what not to wear through a #LGA checkpoint.”

The TSA, whose web-savvy team routinely posts photos of confiscated items on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, has exhaustively outlined prohibited items, including knives and realistic replicas of firearms. But that doesn’t seem to discourage passengers set on slipping through security with their questionable accessories.

Madonna appeared at a 2008 film screening in Chanel pistol-shaped heels.
Kevin Mazur / WireImage
Madonna appeared at a 2008 film screening in Chanel pistol-shaped heels.

Last November, security at Oakland International Airport seized a watch with a large on-off switch and protruding cable-like pieces. It might have been a fashionable timepiece to the passenger, but to security it looked as though it might detonate a bomb.

Bob Burns, the TSA’s official blogger, tried to explain why security officers were suspicious of the watch.

“Is this watch dangerous? Not at all,” Burns wrote. “However, we didn’t know that until the explosive detection team arrived and cleared the item…Terrorists take everyday items and attempt to manipulate them to make improvised explosive devices. Our officers are trained to look for anomalies such as this one.”

Ross Feinstein, a TSA spokesman, told TODAY.com that fliers can retrieve their confiscated items, though many end up as the punch line in a seemingly never-ending joke about the follies of flying with impaired judgment.

Perhaps a good rule of thumb for a successful security screening is to ask yourself whether anything you’re wearing might look like a live weapon or warrant a call to the bomb squad. If the answer is yes, leave it at home.


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