This Might Be The Weirdest Thing Someone Tried to Smuggle Through An Airport

A Chinese man hatched an ingenious plan to get his pet turtle through airport security: he disguised it as a hamburger. It looks like he discarded the normal meat that comes in a KFC burger, placed the turtle between the bun and then re-wrapped the “sandwich” before making his way through security.

Here’s what South China Morning Post reported:

As Li passed through airport security, X-ray screening machines detected a few “odd protrusions” sticking out of a KFC burger that the man had packed in his bag.

Airport staff determined that the protrusions looked suspiciously like turtle limbs, and asked to inspect Li’s luggage.

“There’s no turtle in there, just a hamburger,” Li reportedly insisted. “There’s nothing special to see inside.”

Li finally acquiesced to an inspection after repeated requests from airport staff, who uncovered the pet turtle hidden inside the burger. When asked why he had devised this strange idea, Li said that he had only wanted to travel together with his “beloved” turtle.

He didn’t make it through security with the reptile, but we have to hand it to him. His scheme is much more creative (and more humane) than the guy who stuffed a Chihuahua in his luggage and the guy who strapped lizards to his chest. And there’s always the people who have tried to smuggle monkeys under their shirts, in their hats or in their underwear. And in case you’re wondering about what happened to the turtle, Li was able to get a friend to care for it while he was away.


TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports, But Some Will Remain

For all those who are against having to go through X-ray body scanners at airport security, you’ll be happy to know some are now being removed. During the past few weeks, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been quietly switching them out for safer radiation machines.

While the main goal of the change is to speed up the lines at security checkpoints in major airports, the transition will also lead to less passengers being exposed to radiation.

So far these X-ray machines, called backscatters, have been replaced at Boston Logan International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago O’Hare, Orlando and John F. Kennedy in New York.

One concern people have with the backscatters is the fact that the radiation has been linked to cancer at higher levels. Moreover, the machines produce images of passengers’ naked bodies. The new millimeter-wave scanners help these problems by instead emitting low-energy radio waves similar to those in cellphones, as well as producing generic cartoon images instead of the person’s actual body.Before you get too excited, know the backscatters are not being phased out altogether. They are still being used at certain airports, including some major ones. Additionally, in late September the TSA awarded three companies potential contracts for the next generation of body scanners. One of the systems, made by American Science & Engineering, uses backscatter X-ray technology.

“They’re not all being replaced,” TSA spokesman David Castelveter told ProPublica. “It’s being done strategically. We are replacing some of the older equipment and taking them to smaller airports. That will be done over a period of time.”

The upside to this is research has found the radiation emitted from the body scanners is trivial and nothing to worry it. That being said, many scientists are also arguing that if there is a safer alternative that allows passengers more privacy, the TSA should use it.

“Why would we want to put ourselves in this uncertain situation where potentially we’re going to have some cancer cases?” David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research, told ProPublica last year. “It makes me think, really, why don’t we use millimeter waves when we don’t have so much uncertainty?”

Nothing is simple, however. Research has shown the millimeter-wave scanners have a much higher false-alarm rate, 23% to 54% compared to 5% with backscatters. The TSA hopes using both machines in different airports will lead to competition, creating better technologies at a lower cost.

[Image via Carolina K. Smith, M.D. /]

[Via Chris Elliott]

Researchers show how airport backscatter scanners can be fooled

Two researchers from the University of California have published a report on airport security backscatter x-ray machines, and show that despite the millions invested in the technology, its effectiveness may be overrated.

In the report, Leon Kaufman and Joseph W. Carlson provide a very technical analysisof the technology, and how hidden items can be kept from being detected when they are placed outside the side of the body or items with hard edges. Even when the x-ray exposure power is increased beyond normal levels, these items remain undetected.

Of course, some may argue that releasing this information only helps terrorists – but getting stuff like this out in the open also shows that the massive investment in backscatter technology is not going to be the holy grail in airport security products.

Combine these findings with the privacy concerns and untested safety aspects, and they are suddenly not looking as great as the did when they first arrived at the airport.

If you don’t mind some light technical reading on this lazy Sunday, check out the report for yourself (PDF file).

The Miss TSA Pinup Calendar – *UPDATED*

Check out Miss March! Email lists across the world are tittering at the Miss TSA Pinup Calendar. We aren’t sure where these came from, but they do appear to be real x-rays (says a medical expert friend of mine), and were probably done by a radiologist — that’s why they’d be hitting the medical community first. My medical expert friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) is the one who forwarded me the images.

After some quick research online, the earliest posting of the images I can find is on, but the site was apparently hacked shortly afterward and has since been taken down (here’s the cached page). Still, there’s nothing on the page which indicates that they created or own these images, either. Nobody knows where they came from!***

With that in mind, if you are the owner of these images and would like them taken down or would like to receive credit, please contact me at ask-at-gadling-dot-com immediately! And also: WELL DONE. This is a hilarious parody of the TSA x-ray capabilities, and plays on our fears about the invasiveness of TSA’s latest “security” procedure (substantiated by reports such as Body scanners used as porn by airport security and 100 controversial whole body imaging photos revealed) in a lighthearted, laugh-out-loud-at-the-grinning-skulls coup.

If this were a real calendar, we’d be first in line to buy a ton to send out as holiday gifts for travelers.

Thanks to our resourceful readers, we have learned that these images were created by a German agency for a Japanese computer display company called EIZO, that they are actually just really good CGI and have nothing to do with the TSA.
The calendars are available for purchase on eBay for £69.69 (about $108.32). A special thanks goes out to whoever took this old story and started emailing it around as “TSA Pinups.” You definitely gave us all a good laugh!

Here are the rest. Enjoy!

Miss January

Miss February

Miss March

Miss April

Miss May

Miss June

Miss July

Miss August

Miss September

Miss October

Miss November

Miss December

Photo source unknown.

Galley Gossip: Four year-old kid discusses airport security & TSA pat downs

The following video was created for parents traveling with small kids who might be a little nervous about subjecting their children to the new TSA procedures. Regardless of how you may feel about the new enhanced security measures, there’s no need for children to be scared. My son will explain to them what a pat down is and even share a few tips. But first a few things the TSA would like you to know about going through airport security with children…

  • TSA will screen everyone, regardless of age, including babies.
  • NEVER leave babies in an infant carrier while it goes through the X-ray.
  • All children must be removed from strollers and slings when passing through the machine.
  • All children’s items must go through the X-ray; diaper bags, toys, strollers, slings, etc.
  • If any of your items do not fit through the X-ray, a TSA officer will physically and visually inspect it.
  • If your child can walk through the metal detector unassisted, TSA recommends you and your child walk through separately.
  • Do not pass your baby to a TSA officer to hold as you walk through the X-ray machine.
  • If you choose to carry a child through and the alarm sounds, TSA will check both of you.
  • Medication, baby formula, food and breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3.4 ounces, and are not required to be in a zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.
  • Children under 12 who require extra screening will be subjected to a “modified” pat down. It’s less intrusive than what an adult might receive.
  • Click the link for information regarding children travelers with special needs or medical conditions.

Photo courtesy of Tatiana Mik