After six years of looking through other people’s belongings at the Philadelphia International Airport, nothing much surprises Brian Turner.
But, occasionally, a space rock brightens the Transportation Security Administration officer’s day.
“Just last week, I found, in a bag, a rock that was part of a six-billion-year-old meteorite,” Turner said. “You don’t open a bag and think, ‘Oh, of course that’s what that is.’ ... Of course, I open another bag, and there’s six marionettes staring back at me.”
While some surprises for TSA, like the meteorite, are fine, others, such as weapons, are not. When in doubt, Turner said, leave the firearm and hand grenade replicas at home.
“I found a machete once,” he recalled. “You’re just like, ‘What was the mentality behind that one?’”
As a record 46 million people across the United States gear up to fly for the holidays, Philly’s TSA agents are preparing for 35,000 people — and their hopefully machete-free luggage — to pass through the wailing X-ray gates of PHL security each day through the end of the year.
That’s a 6 percent spike in airline passengers from this time last year, the agency said.
Nationally, Friday was expected to be the busiest day of the season for travel, with more than 2.7 million people expected to fly.
While TSA and other travel-anxiety-fueled passengers may not exactly be the holiday company you were hoping for, here are a few tips to lighten your emotional baggage at the airport.