German Airport Security Mistook Vibrator for Hand Grenade

Apparently, German airports aren't much better than American ones when it comes to identifying risks.


Mohamed Ahmed Soliman/ Chernetskaya/

Vibrator or hand grenade? Security personnel at a Berlin airport apparently couldn't tell the difference yesterday, leading to an hour-long terminal closure.

German federal police say Schönefeld Airport employees found "suspicious content in a luggage piece" while X-raying bags, according to CNN. As a result, Terminal D was closed while authorities investigated.

Airport officials used the public address system to find the bag's owner, though a police spokesperson told CNN the passenger was hesitant to reveal what was in the bag.

Later, the passenger detailed his experience on social media. "When I arrived, the terminal was being evacuated. I approached a police officer and told him that I needed to check my bag with the baggage handlers. He asked my name and for my passport," he wrote, according to The New Zealand Herald. "He then spoke into his radio and several armed police swarmed me with automatic weapons."

But the "suspicious content" turned out to be nothing more than a sex toy. "After 60 tense minutes, [the member of the bomb squad] returned laughing," the passenger tells RT, a Russian state-sponsored media outlet. "The hand grenade was in fact a vibrator from Ann Summers that my girlfriend and I had purchased two weeks previous."

German airports might need to get better at identifying and dealing with explosives. Officials evacuated parts of Frankfurt Airport yesterday after an entire family was allowed to clear security even though they tested positive for explosives, Reuters reports.

Things aren't too much better in the U.S., where the Transportation Security Administration does a terrible job of assessing risk and properly allocating resources, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released in December. "According to the GAO, the agency has not updated its comprehensive risk assessment since 2009," Reason's Eric Boehm noted at the time.

"Given that TSA spends only about 3 percent of its budget on surface activities," GAO auditors wrote in their report, "it is crucial that the agency have complete information on how resources are being used in order to best allocate these limited federal surface transportation security resources."