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TSA Myth Busters: Did LAX TSA Officers Prevent a Child’s Teddy Bear from Flying?

Thursday, December 15, 2016
teddy bear

Did TSA officers at LAX prevent a child from taking his bear on the plane? No. The bear actually belonged to a grown man, and not a child. It turns out it was all a stunt to see if he could get the giant bear on the plane. He’s a popular YouTuber and filmed the whole thing.

Please “bear” with me while I explain how this “grizzly” tale got started.

bearA picture of the bear and an incident report were sent to me as an idea for an Instagram post. I thought it would be a good opportunity for a travel tips post letting people know that very large items can sometimes pose problems when being carried on the plane.

Even though I didn’t mention a child in the Instagram post, some quickly assumed it was a child’s bear and imagined a heartbroken child having to leave its friend behind for the holidays. This was not the case. It belonged to a grown man.

The problem with the bear is that it was just too big to be screened with checkpoint security technology. Our officers attempted to screen it, but were not confident they could clear the big fella. Not only was the bear enormous, it was heavy and dense making it harder to determine if anything was concealed inside. There have been incidents in the past where people have attempted to conceal prohibited items in stuffed animals. For example, our officers discovered a disassembled gun and ammo concealed inside three stuffed animals at PVD in 2012.

Even though the traveler had purchased a ticket for the bear, the airline determined he was too large to be taken into the cabin of the aircraft and offered to refund the ticket and have the bear checked as luggage (our checked baggage screening technology is capable of screening oversized items). The passenger declined and decided to leave the bear behind.

It came to our attention after posting on Instagram that this was all a stunt masterminded by a popular YouTuber. He wasn’t even certain the bear would make it onto the plane telling his YouTube viewers that he had a 50/50 chance. In one scene, you can watch him have a little trouble stuffing the bear in the back of a minivan. He also confesses in the video of creating a fictional back story for the bear to help him get it on the plane. He said it was gift for his girlfriend.

So… no children were involved in this incident. If you’re traveling with an oversized item, please check with your airline first and be prepared for possibly having to check it once you arrive at the airport. If something can’t be taken into the cabin of the aircraft, travelers are always given the option to check items, mail them to themselves, or take them out their car or a friend or family member who might be waiting. Our officers don’t enjoy having to tell you that something can’t fly.

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media


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