Last year, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) confiscated a total of 22,044 "dangerous items" in airport security screenings around the U.S.
Use the graphic below to see what those items were and how many were found in each U.S. airport.
The TSA classifies "dangerous items" according to 16 categories, represented by the 16 images below. Select an image to see how many times that item was found in each U.S. airport last year.
The data reveals some unexpected patterns. For instance, the airports with the most dangerous items confiscated are not always the ones with the most passenger traffic.
In Anchorage International Airport, the 55th busiest U.S. airport by number of boarding passengers, the TSA confiscated 434 dangerous items last year.
For comparison, in LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), the second busiest U.S. airport with 14x the passenger traffic of Anchorage, the TSA confiscated just 199 dangerous items.
The items found in Anchorage include a disproportionately high number of flares and "fuel / paint thinner," which I suppose is not entirely surprising. There are only a limited number of places in the U.S. where people would carry around flares or tanks of fuel, and those places do not tend to coincide with major airports.
It makes sense why so many flares would be found in Anchorage, but there are other concentrations of certain items that don't have such obvious explanations.
No explanation comes to mind why so many realistic gun replicas would be found in McCarran-Las Vegas Airport. Of course, Las Vegas operates in it's own bizarre universe, so the fact that people are carrying some unusual novelty item to the airport isn't shocking either.
Wichita, on the other hand, is about as middle-of-the-road-American as a city can get. And its airport serves less than a million departing passengers per year, which puts it somewhere around #100 on the list of busiest U.S. airports. Yet, 215 knives / cutting items were confiscated there last year, more than twice as many as the next closest airport.
Why are Wichita's air travelers over 100x more likely to be carrying knives / cutting items to the airport than the average U.S. air traveler?
Equally baffling are the concentrations of martial arts weapons in Denver and pepper spray in Phoenix.
Looking just at firearms, here is how the numbers shake out.
Unlike the items mentioned above, firearms are found just where you would expect: busy airports and states with less restrictive gun laws.
- All data used in the map comes from the TSA via a Freedom of Information request (download the raw data here. If you would like to learn more about Freedom of Information, check out my website FOIA Mapper (How to Make a FOIA Request. Could it Really Be This Easy?).
- All images come from the TSA blog.
This post originally appeared at Metrocosm