Contraband won't fly? Just ship it
By Paul Lukas

(FORTUNE Magazine) – SO WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL the scissors, pocketknives, and lighters that are confiscated at airport security checkpoints? Some end up on eBay, some are donated to charity, and most are just destroyed. But at an increasing number of airports--22 right now, and possibly as many as 40 by year's end--passengers can mail the disallowed items home to themselves for $8 (a bit more for lighters and overseas shipments), using new self-serve kiosks installed by a North Carolina company called Checkpoint Mailers.

Heather Lowry, a former airline reservations agent who co-founded the company in 2002, says Checkpoint was modeled after FedEx and UPS, which use computerless kiosks. They currently handle about 10,000 items a month, and to give an idea of the typical range of contraband, she opens a bag of about 160 items she's just picked up from the Charlotte airport: "Hmmm, I'm seeing a lot of Swiss Army knives, Zippo lighters, a wrench, another lighter, scissors, more knives, lots of Leatherman tools." More unusual items have included a tracheotomy kit, a boomerang, barbell weights, a biology dissecting kit, and a canister of bear repellent. "Some of the stuff just boggles your mind," says Lowry. "What were people thinking when they tried to bring brass knuckles on a plane?"

Alas, getting busted at security is something even Lowry isn't immune to. "Five times," she sheepishly admits. "I often carry scissors with me if I'm setting up one of our kiosks at an airport, to cut out logos and signs. Fortunately, once we're set up, I can just mail the scissors back to myself through our own service." -- Paul Lukas