“I truly thought I had seen it all until I got a call that there was a person who had seemingly passed away while waiting to clear security,” says Keith Jeffries, LAX’s federal security director. In actuality, the old man had died earlier, and his family bought him a plane ticket, strapped him into a wheelchair, and tried to sneak him back to his native Mexico for burial. Turns out, it’s not as unusual as it sounds—a one-way flight can be substantially cheaper than shipping a corpse. But these cases don’t make it to the gate; ultimately, they get processed by the LAPD and turned over to the county coroner.
One nonliving passenger did make it through security—with everyone’s approval. In December 2014, LAX was the first airport to have a humanoid robot come through. “Athena” had a ticket to Frankfurt, two human escorts, and a proper German passport. And in case you’re wondering, she sat in premium economy, though her functions were turned off during flight. (She didn’t have an airplane mode, apparently.)