TSA Confiscated a Missile Launcher at Baltimore Washington Airport Yesterday

An active duty military member returning from Kuwait wanted to keep a missile launcher as a souvenir, so packed it in his checked luggage. It was hard to miss when the luggage was screened.

The service member from Texas was questioned and released and allowed to travel home, but his rocket launcher was confiscated.

Several things are striking about this story,

  • The rocket launcher likely didn’t actually belong to the passenger, yet it’s been “turned over to the state fire marshal for safe disposal.” It doesn’t appear as though there are consequences to the passenger for taking it in the first place.

  • It came through customs without any problem. I think we all know who Customs and Border Protection is looking for at this point, but that means they may be missing threats.

  • Even standard firearms need to be declared in checked luggage, was a rocket launcher supposed to be alright? I suppose no one ever asked because rocket launchers are surprisingly light, perhaps 10 pounds, so there wouldn’t have been overweight baggage fees and active duty military are generally provided generous checked bag allowances.

Credit: BWI Airport

“Today I learned” that the TSA’s prohibited items list specifically calls out rocket launches as not being permitted in checked luggage.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. that’s not a “rocket launcher” that’s a rocket canister and it’s empty. He’s basically carrying the box a rocket came it and it’s exactly as dangerous as an empty box. It’s essentially trash or maybe recycling. Confiscating this would be like confiscating the empty box a handgun came in.

  2. Where’s the article about what happened at PHX today?

    “Six Somali-Americans from Minnesota arrested on terrorism charges – including three who were at the airport ‘trying to leave the country and join ISIS’”

    Will Rep Omar write a letter for a light sentence for them as she’s down with others from her community?

  3. @ Andrew

    “…absurd bigoted question is no.”

    You obviously failed at knowing the facts. But you jump to name calling to defend her. How do you know she won’t defend ISIS supporters from her Somali community again?

    “Back in 2016, Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote a letter to a judge requesting a more lenient sentence on behalf of a Minnesota man who was accused of trying to join ISIS.

    Abdirahman Yasin Daud was one of two young men arrested in San Diego in April 2015. They were a part of a larger group of nine that was arrested for trying to join ISIS. Daud specifically was caught trying to buy fake passports in order to travel to Syria. Federal prosecutors requested Daud spend 30 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.“

  4. @chris

    Please read more carefully. Nobody called anybody any names, your statement was identified for what it is: absurd and bigoted.

  5. @Dan/Andrew
    Chris’s question could have been worded more appropriately, but if it’s happened in the past by definition it’s not absurd.

  6. If 30 years In prison for attempting but failing to join a terrorist organization is the right punishment, then how many more decades of prison should Trump get for Trump’s actual delivery of material support to the terrorist-supporting Saudis and Emirati rulers? And how many decades for any and all of his sexual assaults and rapes amongst other things?

    Going to prison for three decades for attempting a crime but failing to do so in any way that has directly harmed anyone sounds harsh when the person more likely should go into a mental asylum for being a nutcase, and a failed one at that.

  7. If your traveling on federal order while in an active duty status you do not need to follow all screening laws that civilians do. To jump on CBP in this manor overlooks the actual law. As an aside, the guy didn’t legally own it and so shouldn’t have had it anyway.

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