EDMONTON - Note to potheads with holiday travel plans: If you want to fool airport security by disguising your marijuana grinder, don't make it look like a hand grenade.
"Bad choice," RCMP Staff Sgt. Larry Wright said. "You can only imagine the kind of concern this is going to bring upon the x-ray operator."
The fake explosive was just one of several menacing-looking trinkets confiscated from airline passengers by security staff over the weekend.
On Monday, Wright showed off a small bin full of toy guns, brass knuckles (real and fake), bullets, bear spray and other items confiscated from carry-on baggage.
That's on top of the mountain of liquids, gels and other forbidden or oversized items that had been collected.
One security staffer pointed to a mound of scissors people had in their carry-ons.
"They don't get too upset about the other stuff," he said. "But they really don't understand why we're taking their scissors."
Airport volume balloons 30% during the holiday season to 22,000 passengers day, and every time someone packs a banned item or sets off a metal detector because they had change in their pocket, the backlog gets a little longer, said Mathieu Larocque of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
"There's a lot of stress involved with traveling at this time of year," Larocque said.
On top of the volume delays, many of the holiday travelers aren't frequent flyers so they're not as familiar with the labyrinthine security procedures and rules imposed since 9-11.
Airport officials put on a demonstration Monday, with one "passenger" doing everything right at the security check-in - removing everything from his pockets, taking his laptop out of its case, ensuring he had no banned items - and another getting everything wrong.
The guy who got it right was through in about one minute. The guy who didn't took nearly 10 minutes - perhaps a minor inconvenience for him, but it all adds up, Larocque said.
"If you're delayed nine minutes and another passenger is delayed nine minutes ... and you have few hundred passengers departing at the same time, like we know will be the case around Christmas time, it's a long line-up. Nobody like line-ups. Your trip starts on an unpleasant note and you don't have a positive travel experience," he said.
Wright, meanwhile, wanted travelers to understand that whether or not a weapon is real or fake, airport security must take it seriously.
"When you're going through pre-boarding screening, we can't differentiate between a toy and real gun," he said.
Most of the time, the items - scissors, toy guns, brass-knuckle belt buckles - are simply confiscated and their owners are given a warning.
"But in cases where it's clearly designed to hurt someone," he added, looking at a set of real metal knuckles, "charges are laid."
If you're bringing Christmas presents with you, airport officials urge you not to wrap them until you reach your destination in case security need to examine them.