When you bring a prohibited item to the airport, you may experience delays to your travel plans and delay the plans of other travelers. Depending on the prohibited item, you may also have to pay a fine and law enforcement may even arrest you.

While federal law regulates transporting firearms during air travel, many local and state governments, as well those of other countries, have their own rules for possessing and carrying firearms. For this reason, bringing weapons to the airport, even unintentionally, may result in both civil and criminal enforcement actions.

Charges for common weapons

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) imposes civil penalties based on the weapon or prohibited item. For example, if you bring any type of flammable liquid or gel fuel into the airport and the TSA finds it during security checkpoints, the fine ranges from $250 to $2,050. These substances include lighter fluid, gasoline, cooking fuels, paint thinners and turpentine.

Comparatively, if the TSA discovers that you have brought dynamite, blasting caps, hand grenades, plastic explosives, more than 10 ounces of gunpowder or any type of high explosive into the airport, the fine ranges from $8,200 to $13,669. You will also receive a criminal referral for this offense.

Federal law allows you to transport unloaded firearms in the airport in checked baggage in a locked, hard-sided container. However, bringing a loaded firearm or unloaded firearm with accessible ammunition could result in a fine ranging from $4,100 to $10,250. California law further forbids carrying a concealed weapon without a California-issued concealed weapon permit.

Increased penalty amounts for aggravating circumstances

The TSA determines the penalty amounts published in the Sanction Guidance Table. You may also experience higher penalties due to aggravating circumstances surrounding the situation. For example, if the TSA finds a loaded firearm in your baggage and this is your second or third offense, you may become subject to higher penalties and more serious criminal consequences.