Chop Cup and TSA

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
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Chop Cup and TSA

Postby erdnasephile » June 10th, 2021, 9:46 pm

Has anyone flown and brought a metal chop cup through TSA in carry on bags before? If so, did you get searched? (It occurred to me that an aluminum cup with one dense spot, as well as a cork ball with a piece of metal hidden in it might look super suspicious on x-ray. I'd rather avoid any chance of TSA hassle, but I'm a little hesitant to put an expensive prop in checked in bags).


I.M. Magician
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Re: Chop Cup and TSA

Postby I.M. Magician » June 10th, 2021, 10:39 pm

I have a story about me flying with way more than just a cup!

Some time after 911, I was going through a checkpoint at the airport and I was carrying on my person a small pouch full of brass and other assorted metal tricks. I placed them in the usual container and they were now in the hands of a security member. He opens the pouch and begins pulling out a variety of these props. He became flustered like what the heck is all of this. I told him that they were magic tricks and I would be more than happy to perform one to show him that they were not dangerous items. He thinks for a moment, hands them to me, and let me continue on my journey.

The one I remember him staring at nervously was a brass Snapper.

Anyway, I am thinking that an aluminum cup should be okay and get through inspections but you never know. It depends on who looks at it. I doubt that they will keep a cup. Offer to do a quick routine.

Later, I felt very lucky that I did not lose that pouch full of great magic props.

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Re: Chop Cup and TSA

Postby Krenz » June 11th, 2021, 1:35 am

An anecdote from more than 20 years ago. Coming back from the 4F convention, Don Alan and I were on the same flight back to Chicago.

On the way to the checkpoint, I remembered that Don had his huge switchblade knife when he performed at the Forks Hotel. Don didn't check any bags, so I asked him if he had mailed the knife back home.

He looked at me, and said, "Why? It has never been a problem." I replied that the checkpoint might have an issue with it. Don shrugs, and walks towards the checkpoint, suit bag and doctor's bag in hand.

As the bags go through, the agents' eyes open wide. They ask "what the hell?" looking at Don.

Don calmly says, "they are my magic props—I'm a magician." He reaches in the bag, and pulls out the bowl, *slams* it down, followed by the large ball bearing, then the hefty tractor nut. Bang! Bang!! Bang!!! The guards laugh, and say, "put it away!" Good thing too, at the bottom of the bag was the switchblade.

Afterwards, he looks at me, and says, "See? Never a problem kiddo!"

A true character. I miss him so much.

Anthony Vinson
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Re: Chop Cup and TSA

Postby Anthony Vinson » June 11th, 2021, 2:47 pm

In 2003 or 2004, while working as a traveling corporate trainer, I was pulled aside by TSA after my backpack had gone through x-ray and asked for permission to search it. Sure, go ahead. After pawing through the bag for several moments, the agent came out with a set of rubber juggling balls and asked what they were. I told him, and added that I used them as a part of my training presentations. He told me that in the future I should remove them from the bag and put them in a bin since they were easily confused with grenades...

Perhaps just put the wrapped/bagged cup in a bin with keys, etc, and leave the ball and loads in your bag? Hopefully they won't be mistaken for grenades!

Good luck!


Mike Masaveg
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Re: Chop Cup and TSA

Postby Mike Masaveg » June 11th, 2021, 10:19 pm

I recently went thru with 4 chop cups, 1 1/2 inch ball bearing, 1 1/4 inch hex nut, rope, a dozen decks and a bunch of magnet holdouts and didn’t have any issues.

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Re: Chop Cup and TSA

Postby PressureFan » June 12th, 2021, 12:04 am

Back in the 90’s I was flying to Florida to compete in a magic contest. They looked in my bag and found my FISM Flash which raised a lot of eyebrows. Also, a John Kennedy Torch Match, and a bottle of lighter fluid for my Kikuchi Fickle Fire. After a lot of fast talk, they let me keep everything but the can of butane and the lighter fluid.

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Gordon Meyer
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Re: Chop Cup and TSA

Postby Gordon Meyer » June 13th, 2021, 4:44 pm

There is no rhyme, reason, or logic to anything the TSA does. All you can do is hope for the best. I've had decks of cards inspected ("looks like plastic explosive on X-ray"), ropes removed and unravelled (without explanation), and a metal gimmick for the blister effect in the shape of playing cards confiscated because it has sharp edges (which it decidedly does not.) All of these items had previously flown many times, it just depends on if Barney Fife is working that day.

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