Knives, saws, sledgehammers don't fly with TSA

Tegan Hanlon

Mark Pentecost says he knows how to spot metal, especially when it's folded into carry-on bags.

As tourist season picks up, the Transportation Security Administration agent had some advice: If you're traveling with knives, tools or even a souvenir ulu knife, pack them into your checked luggage.

"It stands right out," he said.

This year, security screeners have detected eight firearms at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and more than 725 across the nation. In the last 10 days, they've also picked up scores of pocket knives, a saw covered with rust, an electronic angle grinder and a sledgehammer.

"Every one of these items could be put in checked baggage. Absolutely no problem," said TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers.

Pentecost also pointed to a double-edged knife, a credit-card-like weapon that folds into a miniature dagger, a shovel with serrated edges and a table-saw blade still in its packaging. All of the items did not make recent flights.

He said he finds the weapons and tools "all day long, every day."

Many times he catches unassuming passengers traveling to rural Alaska for work, tools in tow. TSA prohibits tools if they measure more than 7 inches long, he said.

Once Pentecost flags a bag, passengers can choose to mail their items from the airport, store them for 24 hours at a cost of $10 or abandon them with TSA agents, he said.

Firearms are another story. The Anchorage Airport Police Department handles those, along with ammunition, brass knuckles and martial arts items.

When TSA's collection hits about 200 pounds, they hand all of it over to the state's Department of Administration. Some of the property is destroyed, but much of it is auctioned off by the state.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at or 257-4589.