Transportation Security Administration screeners found the suspicious device in the man’s carry-on bag Sunday afternoon.
The bag contained two torch-style lighters along with a homemade container made out of 9-inch PVC pipe and end caps, which resembled a pipe bomb, according to the TSA. However, when an end cap was removed, a partially smoked cigar was discovered inside.
The man from Hopewell Junction, N.Y., told officials that he had crafted the item to serve as a homemade humidor for his cigars.
TSA said the traveler surrendered the item for disposal along with the torch-style lighters after he was he wouldn’t be allowed on the plane with it.
“Our TSA officers are vigilant about looking for explosive devices, and this certainly gave the impression that it could be a pipe bomb that someone was attempting to carry onto an aircraft,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s federal security director for LaGuardia Airport. “Fortunately it turned out not to be an explosive device, but had he pulled it out during his flight, it could have caused a panic.”
“Replica weapons are not permitted on aircraft and this easily could have passed for an improvised explosive device. It was a good catch on the part of the officers who were staffing the checkpoint,” Duffy said.