A guitar-shaped like a semi-automatic rifle and a grenade-shaped perfume bottle are among the more wacky items confiscated by airport security in the US.
The much maligned Transport and Security Administration (TSA) picked up three Webby awards last year including the People’s Voice Award for weird social media marketing.
Now the agency is using its unexpected popularity as an opportunity to share the dos and don’ts of air travel with its one million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
‘The bottom line is our social media pages makes travellers better informed so they have a better experience and it frees up our officers to do what they need to do – look for the bad actors,’ said David Johnston, TSA’s social media director.
Some of the strange discoveries shared by the agency included a pocket-sized pitchfork, a glittery handbag with brass knuckles as a clasp and a large bullet from Afghanistan altered to be a cigarette lighter and pen.
A Valentine’s Day post showed a throwing star, axe and double-edged dagger all taken from the same passenger’s carry-on bag.
David is following in the footsteps of Curtis ‘Bob’ Burns, 48, who died in October, paved the way for other federal agencies by establishing a social media presence with quirky photos and dad jokes.
‘When you look at his posts, you’re seeing a window into his soul. It really was from his heart, he was a fun, happy guy,’ David said.
‘We had a unique situation with him, but we can still be entertaining and help people as we find our way forward without him.’
Bob shared a weekly count of firearms found by TSA officers nationwide on a blog and presented a summary of weapons travellers had stuffed into their bags, pockets, purses or briefcases.
In one of his Instagram posts, showing a confiscated glove with razors for fingers, Bob joked: ‘It’s safe to sleep on Elm Street again.
‘Freddy lost his glove at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL).’
The Gulf War veteran worked in airports and wanted to change the TSA’s negative perception by taking over its social media.
During a Facebook live ‘Ask Me Anything’ session last year, Bob said the success of the account was partly due to the shock value.
He added: ‘People don’t come to a government Instagram account and expect to see humour.’