No matter where you are in the world, weird things are guaranteed to be going down at the airport. And the people who see it all? Airport employees, of course. From sex toys and snakes on planes (really), to scary encounters with drugs, human traffickers, and even scorpions, it's undeniable that the jobs aren't dull ones. Airport employees (and friends and family members of airport employees) responded to an Ask Reddit thread that posed the question: "What is the strangest, funniest, scariest thing that happened at your airport?" Needless to say, things got interesting. Read on to see some of the most over-the-top stories out there.
Sex Toy Problems
"Sex convention in town. Someone going through security had a dildo that has a suction cup to one side to stick on a table or other surface. TSA employee didn't realize what it was when doing a bag check and stuck the suction part on the table. They had to slide it to the edge of the table to release the suction." — Reddit user Trauma_Mama_xx
IUD vs. IED
"Not an employee but a passenger. I got flagged for a random TSA pat down and the agent asked me if I had any metal in my body, to which I said, 'I have an IUD.' The agent freaks out and starts flagging other agents over. She musters all her calm and says 'Please repeat that you have an IED [improvised explosion device, aka a bomb] on you' to which I had to say 'no, an IUD, a copper intrauterine device, for birth control.' She didn't know what an IUD was. I bet she'll remember now!" — Reddit user mariahmce
"One time a passenger had checked in about 10 kg of meat as baggage and it got bad on the flight over. Not very nice to unload." — Reddit user Rooke89
Human Trafficker Caught
"I used to work for TSA and intercepted a human trafficking situation. There was a guy and a lady and a little boy. But the lady wasn't allowed to speak. The little boy looked scared but didn't say anything. He wouldn't even look at me. So it freaked me out. I told my supervisor and she called the airport PD. As soon as he saw me go talk to my supervisor, he looked sort of agitated. He sent the lady and the little boy down the terminal and he was trying to grab all of their things to go meet them.
The police showed up and asked me for a description. Since the airport wasn't big, he found them and brought them back to the checkpoint. As they got closer to the checkpoint, he tried to send the lady to the exit instead of having her come back to the checkpoint.
Eventually, the police was able to separate the man from the lady and the little boy. She told them everything. They walked the man out in cuffs. I didn't get to see what happened to her because my shift was ending. But when I grabbed my stuff from the back, we made eye contact and she nodded at me. I took that as a thank you. It was a scary situation but I'd do it again any day. There's no telling what would've happened to that lady and little boy if I didn't follow my instincts." — BooRadley9669
Wrong Place to Light Up
"I worked at Perth airport until recently. Most flights in Perth go to Bali and you see some right characters . . . A Jetstar flight was delayed by seven hours and a woman and her husband used the time to get absolutely sh*tfaced. The woman fancied a cigarette and rather than go outside and go through security again, lit up in the middle of the duty free. My colleagues quickly tried to stop her, but she told them to f*ck off. Cue airport police, $10,000 fine and no flight to Bali. Should have listened to the staff . . ." — Reddit user vivalapancakes
"I was cabin crew doing a turnaround from Dubai, UAE to Muscat, Oman and back again. We're on ground in Muscat and hear from ground staff to take extra care of a passenger who is about to board. She was an English lady in her fifties . . . she looked completely shaken when she boarded. She had checked in her luggage and had gone on to security. She placed her trolly bag on the conveyor belt and she went ahead through the metal detector and was waiting on the other side for her bag. Next thing she knows she's being detained, placed in hand cuffs and taken to a room for questioning. They take in her bag and start questioning her . . .
Airport police officer: 'Did you pack this bag yourself?'
Airport Police: 'So you know whats in the bag?'
And goes about describing whats in the bag. The questioning goes on for a while and is quite aggressive. The police officer then opens up the bag and right on top of everything is this parcel filled with marijuana. Shes aghast and protests her innocence, doesn't know anything about it. This poor lady is completely distraught. The gravity of it is hitting her and she's inconsolable; drug trafficking anywhere is a big no-no, but in Middle Eastern countries it can end up giving you the death penalty. The officers reviewed the footage of when her bag was scanned, and when she placed her bag on the belt and turned away, a man standing right behind her, in seconds undid the zips and slipped it in. She had no idea who this man was. So she was let go and free to continue traveling but her trolly bag was confiscated as evidence. She wasn't too worried about the bag at that stage. I got her a very big brandy! Lesson to be learned is to not let your bags out of your sight, even for a second!" — Reddit user AB-G
"Dude coming through security. His bag goes off as needing to be checked because there is something coming up like a weird metal inside of plastic. They pull out a pencil case and open it. When the agent opens it, the scorpion inside's tail shoots up. The guy won it at a scorpion fight or something. TSA employee was like 'f*ck this. I'm going home'."— Reddit user Trauma_Mama_xx
Transporting the Dead
"I used to do cargo for Delta and British Airways. We ship A LOT of dead people. A lot of animals, too. They actually sent me to LA to go to a class entirely on animal handling. There's regulations and procedures for EVERYTHING all the way up to elephants and whales and sh*t. Weirdest thing we ever got to actually ship was an alligator of some sort." — Reddit user Chupacabra_Sandwich
Taking a Tumble
"Pittsburgh international, 3 a.m. or so several years ago. Watched an older woman tumble down the "up" escalator. Every time she flipped over she yelled 'I'm ok' like Filburt from Rocko's Modern Life. 'Flop, I'm ok, Flop, I'm ok, Flop, I'm ok'. Rolled in place for maybe a minute before someone shut the thing off." — Reddit user Streder
"I work at my local airport (I live on a tiny island and this airport is smaller than our library), and just last Summer we had a hurricane looming down on us. Everyone is getting packed up to evacuate, we're renting cars like crazy to people fleeing and we're trying to get them out of the storm area. I was out checking on the cars we had and when I walked back up there was a man sitting on a bench out front, with an apocalyptic-looking storm bearing down on us, wind whipping everywhere, just soulfully playing the trombone. No idea where he came from or what he was doing but it was surreal. Like something out of a David Lynch film." — Reddit user DomLite
"A school friend's father worked on Passport Control at Gatwick in the mid-80s. In those days passports were often handwritten and had spaces for things like 'distinguishing features.'
One day a young woman presented her passport to him, and he opened it and compared the photo . . . and then paused before saying 'this is a bit unusual.' He showed her the open passport which read in part: Distinguishing Features: BIG TITS. She exclaimed 'my bloody brother, I'll kill him!'" — Reddit user Flupsy
Literal Snakes on a Plane
"My mom worked for British Airways for years, dealing with special freight cases for import/export. Much of this freight was offloaded and put in a holding warehouse for customers to collect — it wasn't your typical suitcases and luggage of traveling passengers.
One shipment came in from Africa, a large wooden crate that didn't actually weigh very much. Her client came in, opened the crate to check the contents and immediately became hugely irate to the warehouse staff. He barges into her office holding a frozen, venomous snake — she said it looked like a jagged lightning bolt, all zigs and zags. He's screaming at her in the office gesturing wildly with this dead snake, demanding compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars . . .
Turns out he didn't declare them as animals (probably to get around any customs laws — there were dozens, if not hundreds of various venomous snakes in the crate). The cargo area of most planes isn't heated, so the poor snakes had frozen (literally!) to death in transit. He couldn't sue and had to answer some interesting questions from the Treasury Department once all was said and done. The sucky thing is he was importing them to make anti-venom; if he'd only declared them and paid for them to be shipped correctly he would have made a [healthy] profit and probably saved some lives . . ." — Reddit user faisent
"Airports employ falconers. The birds are used to keep other birds away from aircraft, because a bird in an engine can really mess up someone's day. So this falconer had come into the airport with his bird to grab a cup of coffee. He decided to try to impress some ladies by taking the hawks hood off and doing a little demonstration. What he failed to notice was the starlings resting outside on a steel beam. Hawk flew after starlings, smoked the glass and broke it's neck. Thousands of dollars worth of highly trained bird, gone." — Reddit user LadyXaviara
Things You Can't Unsee
"I was a ramp agent for a while. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I loaded and unloaded bags. Some of the more interesting things I saw were at baggage processing. A list of things I saw in baggage processing:
A human head transport: It was a big, nitrogen cooled container. It was declared as a human head/ tissue. Human eyeballs, human genitals, human skin: for skin grafts I suppose, deceased person, lab research rats: a big medical college is one town over, horse semen, bull semen, human semen, snakes." — Reddit user Eli_The_D
"Worked at the airport in Melbourne, Florida. A family arrived from Spain for vacation. Apparently their travel agent screwed up the flight reservations. They were supposed to go to Melbourne, Australia. I later heard they made the most of it and ended up going to Disney I think." — Reddit user _No_No