What Happens to Travelers' Confiscated Items?

ByABC News
December 6, 2001, 11:14 AM

Dec. 7 -- On a recent US Airways flight from New York's LaGuardia airport to Greensboro, N.C., one woman complained that security guards had taken a Calvin Klein pin from a hat she was carrying on board.

Much to the woman's chagrin, the security personnel did not give her any information about getting it back.

"That pin cost more than the hat," she said.

If you've flown since Sept. 11, you too have probably noticed that once-innocent items like hat pins, tweezers and nail clippers are being promptly snatched from your carry-on bags for fear that they could be used as weapons.

The bad news is, there is probably no hope of getting the items back. Security and airline sources say in most cases items confiscated at airports are destroyed at the end of the day.

Leave Your Weapons at Home

What's more, there's often very little recourse for travelers apart from simply filing a complaint with the airlines. And even then, many airlines won't be too sympathetic.

"We're not trying to be mean, we just have no choice," says Richard Weintraub, spokesman for US Airways. "It can get into logistical nightmares trying to mail everything back."

Some airlines, like United, are trying to accommodate passengers by providing a courtesy box at the gate where they can check the forbidden item and retrieve it at the end of the flight. Weapons like knives and mace, however, will be confiscated and destroyed, says a United spokesman.

And surprisingly, people still do try to bring potential weapons on flights. Among the more bizarre items officials at Argenbright Security, an Atlanta-based company that provides security for major airlines such as Delta and US Airways, have had to take include a saw and a sickle, which one passenger tried to carry on a flight in a garment bag, says company spokesman Brian Lott.

"It boggles the mind why someone would try and carry an item of that size, of that threat, on to the airplane," he says.

How to Find Out What Is Banned