The discovery occurred at a security checkpoint at Richmond International Airport in Virginia. As a male traveler from Williamsburg went through the checkpoint, he submitted a carry-on bag to be inspected via an X-ray machine. The X-ray revealed the outline of a knife. TSA officers conducted a manual search of the man’s bag, found nothing, and re-ran the bag through the X-ray machine. The second scan appeared to show the knife inside a laptop, resulting in a second manual search. This time, the officers pried the laptop open to expose its insides.
The laptop’s inner workings indeed contained a double-edged knife. Based on photos shared by the TSA, the weapon appears to have been adhered to the inside of the laptop’s bottom casing. When closed, the knife would have hugged the machine’s G-Style battery. It’s unknown whether the laptop was operable with the knife present.
According to the TSA, the laptop’s owner initially said he wasn’t aware a knife was present; after the machine was pried open, the owner admitted the knife was actually his. Information isn’t currently public about what motivated the owner to hide the knife in his laptop, and it might never be—based on the TSA’s Twitter page, travelers regularly hide weapons in their luggage (and in other strange belongings), but the context surrounding each attempted sneak is rarely given.
Regardless of the laptop owner’s intent, he’ll almost definitely face hefty fees for his foiled smuggling. Under the TSA’s “ordinary artful concealment” policy, sharp objects result in a fine of $530 to $2,250. “Extraordinary artful concealment” (like in the case of a carefully hollowed-out book) results in a $5,320 to $10,700 fine. Though it’s unlikely that the TSA will consider the laptop owner’s early lie to be false information, that could technically rack up another $1,490 to $4,480 in fines, too.
As for now, it appears the laptop owner won’t be facing jail time. He might, however, never speed through a busy security checkpoint again: Travelers caught traveling with weapons lose their ability to participate in the TSA PreCheck program for good.