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My wife and I are going to fly from Madrid to NY soon.

We have a stuffed puppet we like to carry with us every time we travel. It is a small puppet, maybe 20cm tall. You can laugh as much as you want, but we REALLY love that puppet. We are a bit worried because if immigration find her (the puppet) suspicious because, for example, they suspect that can be stuffed with drugs or something similar instead of, well, stuff, and they tore her apart to see her insides, we are going to very very sad the rest of the travel. And is our honeymoon travel.

We want to take Filomena (that's the name of the puppet) with us because she has come with us all around the world, but if there is a risk that she is going to be broken by immigration officers we maybe want to leave her at home.

What is your advice? Put her in the handbag? in the luggage? Leave her at home?

You can see something similar to Filomena here:

Rat puppet

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    The only issue could be if Filomena is filled with unconventional material. – Quora Feans Sep 3 at 21:48
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    There is nothing stupid in this question. I edited that out. You both alone define the symbolic value of the puppet. (And if you want, you could ask hypothetical, purely academic questions. For example, what would they do it the puppet could hover above the ground - pretty interesting!) So, you are very welcome! – Volker Siegel Sep 3 at 22:41
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    That example made me actually think about would happen if I would have a autonomously hovering puppet. When being controlled before entering the US, I could imagine it would be rejected, immediately or after a discussion because an unknown object may pose a danger. On control on entering Germany, I could imagine it it would be allowed, immediately or after a discussion because of scientific interest. Or maybe both would not even notice that it's unusual. Hmm... I should invent a hovering doll and try... – Volker Siegel Sep 3 at 23:00
  • I'm glad that you asked, I'm very attached to my eevee Felix and on october I'm going to fly from Italy to UK, an invasive security check is my worst nightmare and I had planned to search informations but now I don't have to. – Emiliano S. Sep 5 at 9:04
42

Welcome to Travel StackExchange.

People travel with plushies all the time. A particularly high voted question for example deals with them, too.

I personally fly with a teddy bear (https://www.flickr.com/photos/chx/2744243832/ the one in the white hat) all the time. I am probably at 4-500 flights with this bear in the carry on ((hat tip: shoebags are even better than packing cubes for teddy bears, great fit, completely covered, light weight). It's a very well travelled, ancient (at my pillow side every night since 1988) teddy bear. When I immigrated I had my entire large carry on roller absolutely full with my bears. The last few years I had a tiny corgi keychain charm (pic) in my pocket, it helps a lot with the really bad experiences at security. Recently when I travelled to Hungary for a few months, Waffles the memory foam corgi (pic) was travelling in my checked in luggage, he is a bit large and heavy for carry on. The bond is not yet so strong that I wouldn't have been OK with just buying another one.

Noone cared about any of this, so far. The only negative experience was when israeli security lifted the poor, old bear by its ear. I didn't care about them strip searching me and rifling through every single item in my luggage but that made me raise my voice. Next time I told security to be a tiny bit careful. That went better.

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    Thank you for your warm welcome, and for your answer. We are concerned because people says a lots of things about USA inmigration officers (propably not everything its true) and inmigration controls can be more "harsh" that in another countries, and they may think "WTF are you, two grown adults, doing with a stuffed puppet in your luggage". We have had no problems so far with her, but its the first time we are going to go to USA. – Fustigador Sep 3 at 8:44
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    I have crossed the US border dozens of times with at least one teddy bear, in a car, in a bus, on flights, not a problem. Sometimes I even brought home a new one, people give me teddy bears as a gift, I wonder why :) I am a full grown adult too (at least I look like one and people expect me to behave like one, boo). – chx Sep 3 at 9:08
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    The officers at the border (be it customs or immigration) have probably seen adults travel with plushies/puppets many times. That won't affect their assessment of you. And they've probably experienced reactions like the one @chx describes having had in Israel before too, so they know they should take some care with that kind of item, i.e. it's highly unlikely that they will take it apart to look for drugs. – Henrik - stop hurting Monica Sep 3 at 10:57
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    Unless the drug dog or residue scanner marks your luggage as suspicious, you aren't going to have issues. Acting like you have something to hide though... – pboss3010 Sep 3 at 11:45
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    Just my two cents. My wife had to travel to Spain, passing through Panama and Colombia as connecting flights. The police in Colombia were very suspicious of a slightly big and round giraffe plush (like 30x30x30cm), so they ripped it open to check inside even though she opposed it. She was able to sew it close, though. – cavpollo Sep 3 at 17:58
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We are back from NYC to Madrid. We had no problem entering nor exiting in/from the USA, no one worried a little bit about Filomena, and not a single incident at customs.

We had a great time, and Filomena too...

enter image description here

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Enroll in one of the TSA/US Imm pre-check programs - it will cost you very little money, and will allow you to get through w/out screening, as a "trusted persons". There are about a dozen programs available, depending upon your border-crossing status; if you search online, you'll stumble upon these rather quickly. Or you can check the TSA site as well.

Hope this helps.

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    This answer is ~100% wrong. TSA Pre(TM) will not let you through without screening, it'll give you a less atrocious screening experience. You can get into that by either directly applying which is only open to US citizens which -- based on OP's comments -- OP is very unlikely to be one, I'd rather guess Spanish citizens. Or you could apply for Global Entry, and Spanish citizens are not eligible for Global Entry either: cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/… NEXUS is even more restricted. – chx Sep 3 at 23:29
  • I am a Spanish citizen, indeed. – Fustigador Sep 4 at 6:24
  • There is no way to board a commercial plane without going through some security checks. Period. – Lightness Races with Monica Sep 5 at 10:46

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