Wednesday, March 14, 2012

TSA Says Yes to the Dress

Bride in wedding dress holding boquet of flowers.
I know from experience that planning a wedding can be a stressful time for a bride, especially if you’re getting married away from home.  It can be really stressful if you’re jetting off for a destination wedding and don’t want to let your precious wedding dress out of your sight for fear it could get lost or damaged.  As anyone will tell you, getting all the information ahead of time and being prepared can reduce your stress.

As the trend of destination weddings grow, more women are dealing with the conundrum of shipping their dress to the place they’ll getting married or taking it on the plane with them.  Like many other items we are frequently asked about, this issue involves both TSA and the airline.

Brides-to-be can definitely bring their wedding dress through a security checkpoint.  Ideally, the dress can lay flat in its garment bag or other packaging and fit through the X-ray machine.  If it can’t, our officers can screen the dress manually, but this will require opening the garment bag.  Rest assured that our officers will use gloves for the alternate screening to avoid damaging the dress.  

We strongly advise brides to contact their airline to ask about taking their wedding dress on the plane.  While some aircraft have closets in first class that can hold the dress, others may not, which could cause challenges in storing the dress above the seat.  Airlines will also count the dress as a carry-on item, so be sure to learn about your airline’s carry-on policies to avoid having to check any items at the gate.

While working on this post, I reached out to some of our customer service managers in various airports to ask them what other questions brides frequently ask.  Their  tips include:  if you’re taking a special cake knife to cut the cake, please ship it or put it in your checked bag.  Wired bouquets are allowed through the checkpoint, along with rice, birdseed, sand and candy coated almonds.  If you’re taking gifts for your bridal party, it’s best to wrap them when you get to your destination in case they require additional screening.  Pack all of your jewelry in your carry-on bag – don’t put it in checked bags.  And take your marriage license with you in the event you booked your plane tickets in your married name but haven’t updated your driver’s license.  

If any other issues arise while preparing to fly to a destination wedding, brides-to-be can call or email TSA’s Contact Center at 1-866-289-9673 or at TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.  

TSA Blog Team     
If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.

72 comments:

Mark said...

First!

As one who had a "destination wedding", I just wanted to thank you for your spot on advise. The wedding dress thing is a very big deal. My wife and I got married in St. Lucia, and all the things you mentioned--and more--are details that need to be thought through. The issue of bringing a marriage certificate is a moot point, though, as the wedding hasn't yet taken place. As long as the bride's name on her ID matches the name on her ticket, there is no issue. Whether she is using her maiden name or her married name--it doesn't matter--as long as her ID (DL and/or passport) matches the name on her ticket.

Now, let all the small-minded anti-TSA rants that have nothing to do with the post begin.

margaret said...

The real problem for us on the checkpoint is beauty supplies. Brides and bridesmaids want to bring everything, with disasterous results at the checkpoint.

PLEASE, always put your full-sized beauty supplies in your checked bag. You don't want to abandon it at the checkpoint or have to rush back to the ticket counter with your arms full of hair spray, gel, bronzer, shampoo, sun screen, etc.

Anonymous said...

Really good information, Lynn!

RB said...

A dress, wedding or otherwise, is not WEI so why would TSA even be involved in this discussion?

It is totally amazing just how screwed up air travel has become since the invent of TSA.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, why don't you just eliminate the ID requirement, since (like the shoe carnival and liquids nonsense) it contributes nothing to anyone's safety? What should a traveler do when encountering staff and supervisors who refuse to act as this blog post claims they should? What recourse does someone have if TSA ruins their dress just days before their wedding?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure this is of interest to a few people, but I think more people are interested in the posts below regarding the breast milk and the guy getting items past your scanners. Why haven't new comments been posted for those posts? I know I have sent some comments.

I have a feeling that most people can figure out that a dress is allowed through security.

Anonymous said...

Ooh- another
L
o
n
g
post to move that embarrassing Jonathan Corbett post further down the front page. Keep going, bob, and pretty soon it'll be gone.

Of course, the issue will still remain. As will the issue with untrained employees making women pump breast milk in bathrooms, and the Insulin pump thing, and many other issues.

Why not just address them? Get them out of the way?

I guess upfront-ness and honesty isn't the TSA way.

Laura Monteros said...

Very useful information!

Anonymous said...

Still trying to shove the video story down the page faster than usual, eh?

Anonymous said...

How exciting. With all the news on TSA (airports still trying to opt out, mother's being forced to enter a public bathroom and remove their top to pump breast milk in sight of anyone, video evidence of the complete ineffectiveness of your scanners), you want to remind someone that they can bring a dress on a plane.

Anonymous said...

Is it Friday already?

Anonymous said...

Come on Bob, you have better things to address than dresses. How about the inefficiency of your full body scanners? Or lack of scientific support for the use of behaviour detection?

Anonymous said...

You know it's bad once the TSA is listing the stuff that you are allowed to take on board.

And, nevertheless, four ifs and two buts.

Anonymous said...

I found this post very helpful. Thanks.

Sandra said...

And how about getting your blog fixed so that we can read beyond the post of March 8, 2012 at 1:50 p.m. in the Jon Corbett video thread?

.....and so that we who preview our comments can read them properly.

Screen shot taken

Russell said...

Mark,

Congrats on being first. I'm sure that'll get you a Coke from the guys at the gas station.

But did you really need to cast the first stone towards those of us who use our First Amendment right to question our government and the use of our tax dollars? You could have just posted your opinion about the wedding dress and moved on.

We need more freedoms, not less. If you're inline with the TSA, then you are for less freedoms and that to me, is very small minded.

Getting-Married-Soon said...

Hi Lynn, great post!

I have one question: Will these rules still apply to travelers departing from Orlando Airport, seeing as how that airport will no longer be utilizing TSA services?

Jones said...

I'd heard mixed things about this. If you need to bring your wedding dress with you then call ahead airlines and let them know that you're planning to bring your dress. But if a first class passenger needs the space, your stuff will be moved. I know that for majority case, people didn't take the risk and sent their things by USPS. With anything important, I send it through USPS because if something goes wrong, it is a federal offense, where with FedEx and UPS, it isn't.

Lynn, your topic is informative and help us surely. Thanks with regards.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your advice, Lynn.

When will the TSA completely secure the baggage handling area and prevent pilfering from luggage? The fact that valuables continue to go missing from checked bags shows that the baggage area is NOT secure and employees with access to it are not properly supervised. Does the TSA have a timetable for securing this area?

Fishstick said...

"Lynn, why don't you just eliminate the ID requirement"

The reason they have the ID requirement is to limit the number of people going through the checkpoint. Without the ID check just about anyone could go through the checkpoint.

I remember when the entire family would see people off at the gate. If we still did that TSA would have to screen six people instead of one. It may not have any obvious connection to security but limiting the people that get screened to passengers only cuts down on lines and the money we need to spend on security.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for giving USEFUL advice inspite of all of the individuals that just want to post to complain about everything NOT related to this topic.There are intelligent individuals out here in cyberspace that look forward to the information that will make my planning easier. I have ALWAYS had good experiences when going through security, and ensure that my attitude in approaching the process helps in making it an easier experience. I wonder what all of these negative people would say when we stand over them as they do thier job and we critique them???

Anonymous said...

The TSA is about as far from weddings, motherhood and apple pie as anyone, or anything, could be. The TSA's lame attempts to publish stories that distract the public's attention off their lurid encounters with law-abiding American taxpayers is disparate and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

jeez, Bob & co. talking about wedding dresses instead of the latest TSA-announced proof that your screenings are irrelevant? folks over 75 are now going to be allowed to wear shoes and not deal with the foolishness to the same degree as many of us. pathetic. what does age have to do with it? if the idea is to focus on "those who require more scrutiny", why are all military retirees not exempted? active duty military? active/retired police officers? active/retired firefighters? not any generic civil servant, of course, but why are those who put their lives on the line repeatedly for the society not given the same consideration as someone who simply lived until a particular age or hasn't lived long enough. face it, TSA/DHS policy makes NO sense.

Anonymous said...

Of course, this post will do no good when a bride-to-be inevitably presents herself at a checkpoint where the TSO decides to prohibit the dress or some other item that you say is permitted. It will do her little good when you subsequently post another "apology" admitting that mistakes were made and informing us that that the anonymous TSO was sent for unspecified "training" and that some unspecified corrective action was taken.

You're ignoring the real problem, that your bosses clearly have no interest in holding TSOs accountable for knowing the rules and applying them correctly. They also have no interest in getting rid of the incompetent TSOs who don't know the rules, and who even bully and humiliate passengers to cover up their incompetence. Those TSOs supposedly were trained and certified in the rules and procedures before they were allowed to screen passengers. But those
passengers still suffer needlessly because the training didn't work.

Why should we believe that a slap on the wrist and "retraining" (before being sent back to the checkpoint, to humiliate more passengers) would make them competent? And what about the competence of the supervisors who allow the incompetent TSOs to get away with not knowing the rules?

It's a systemic problem, which your entire agency seems intent on ignoring. Telling us what should happen and should be allowed is useless when too many of us experience TSOs who do what should not happen, or who arbitrarily decide that an officially permissible item is prohibited at that checkpoint, at that moment. That does nothing to enhance security, but only generates resentment from the public who really do want to cooperate with you because we share your goal of secure aviation.

Each "mistake" requiring an "apology" only increases the resentment, since it yet again demonstrates that your bosses are doing nothing to correct the problems that create the "mistakes." And posts like this explaining what is permitted are useless when we know there's a good chance that the TSO who screens us may make a contrary determination, and respond to any mention of the "blog post" with DYWTFT.

Anonymous said...

FIRST....Flying should not be such a complicated production for people. After all, EVERYONE has already gone through a check and been cleared for flying when we BOUGHT our tickets.....right???

Again, metal detectors and dogs.

Anonymous said...

How many brides and grooms have you subjected to TSA's kangaroo-court civil fines over a cake cutter?

I know there's been at least one, but I'm sure TSA has a count somewhere of these "big catches" where you've saved us all from honeymooners with cake knives.

JoJo said...

Anonymous said...
I wonder what all of these negative people would say when we stand over them as they do thier job and we critique them???
-----

Smart people welcome and listen to critique and use it to better themselves. The not-so-smart people get sensitive over it and plug their ears, assured that they can do no wrong. If you were paying my salary as we are paying the TSA's, you would have every right to point out any unsatisfactory performance at my end.

tramky said...

One thing that demonstrates that the TSA is NOT about airline safety--not really--is the requirement to present some kind of 'valid' ID. What difference does it make to TSA what your ID is? Either you are cleared to get on a commercial airliner or you are not--either you are carrying a prohibited item or you are not. Whether your name is John Dillinger or Mickey Bitsko does not matter. It is likely that killers fly on commercial airlines because they are cleared by TSA to do so. Their past does not matter; their old history does not matter--even being a Muslim does not matter.

Anonymous said...

Let's see -- the original Puppy Post was uploaded at 1:18 pm and the first I-Love-TSA Puppy Response was posted less than 20 minutes later. Just 7 minutes later, two more I-Love-TSA responses were posted simultaneously. That means all three of these people had to have been looking at the site in real time and, coincidentally, all three had recent happy experiences flying to weddings, all chose to submit positive comments, and, Lynn was monitoring the blog in real time just waiting to approve and post reponses as quickly as possible.

Some advice: You need to do a better job concealing the fact that these posts were made by other TSA public affairs people in adjacent cubicles. All of these fake supportive comments uploaded within minutes of the original post really are insulting and patronizing.

Anonymous said...

You forgot one piece of advice. Leave a day or two early in case some TSO decides "you can't fly today". Make sure there is a later back-up flight you can take so you don't' miss your own wedding.

Anonymous said...

Let me be the first to say I'm super relieved that I am allowed to bring candy coated almonds on the plane. Phew.

Glad my tax dollars are being spent properly.

Anonymous said...

"The reason they have the ID requirement is to limit the number of people going through the checkpoint. Without the ID check just about anyone could go through the checkpoint."

Anybody can still get through a checkpoint if they want to. It would take maybe 3 minutes total to photoshop a boarding pass to include any name you want, the boarding pass isn't validated against anything at the security checkpoint.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Let me be the first to say I'm super relieved that I am allowed to bring candy coated almonds on the plane. Phew.

Glad my tax dollars are being spent properly.

March 16, 2012 10:06 AM

...............
Only allowed if some TSA screener doesn't decide they are not allowed that day.

You have no recourse.

Lynn said...

@Getting-Married-Soon:

Thanks for your comment. Whether an airport has federal security officers or privatized ones, they all follow the same TSA security procedures. So regardless of what airport you're flying out of, the procedures are the same. Hope this helps.

Good luck with wedding planning!

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn, has it occurred to you that there's something deeply sick and wrong about the fact that your agency is so hated and feared by the American public that you need to say, yes, it's OK to bring a wedding dress through your security checkpoints?

RB said...

Lynn said...
@Getting-Married-Soon:

Thanks for your comment. Whether an airport has federal security officers or privatized ones, they all follow the same TSA security procedures. So regardless of what airport you're flying out of, the procedures are the same. Hope this helps.

Good luck with wedding planning!

Lynn

March 16, 2012 3:55 PM
..........

Perhaps I am missing the point Lynn but what concern does TSA have about dresses?

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
Let's see -- the original Puppy Post was uploaded at 1:18 pm and the first I-Love-TSA Puppy Response was posted less than 20 minutes later. Just 7 minutes later, two more I-Love-TSA responses were posted simultaneously. That means all three of these people had to have been looking at the site in real time and, coincidentally, all three had recent happy experiences flying to weddings, all chose to submit positive comments, and, Lynn was monitoring the blog in real time just waiting to approve and post reponses as quickly as possible.

Some advice: You need to do a better job concealing the fact that these posts were made by other TSA public affairs people in adjacent cubicles. All of these fake supportive comments uploaded within minutes of the original post really are insulting and patronizing.

March 16, 2012 7:50 AM"
------------------------
OR - Someone like me who checks the Blog regularly, sometimes even leaves it in a background window, will see a new post pop up and immediately comment on it. The bloggers are still online and approve the post. I've had this happen several times with both negative and positive posts where my posts have hit the site within minutes of the original posting thus making mine the first comment.
I assure you, I am not "sitting in the next cubicle".

Some advice:
Know what you are talking about before you post.

Anonymous said...

Lynn said:

@Getting-Married-Soon:

Thanks for your comment. Whether an airport has federal security officers or privatized ones, they all follow the same TSA security procedures. So regardless of what airport you're flying out of, the procedures are the same. Hope this helps.

Good luck with wedding planning!

Lynn
-----------------

@Getting-Married-Soon:
Beware of Lynn's statement. As part of TSA's deliberate unpredictability (or is it lack of consistent training...) every airport/TSA screener is free to make up rules as they deem fit. This deliberate inconsistency is somehow touted as good for security (but bad for taxpaying citizen flyers).

Sandra said...

Well said, anonymous:

"Some advice: You need to do a better job concealing the fact that these posts were made by other TSA public affairs people in adjacent cubicles. All of these fake supportive comments uploaded within minutes of the original post really are insulting and patronizing."

Tandemfusion said...

Isn't it fairly obvious that a wedding dress is no business of checkpoint screeners, so long as it is only a wedding dress?

And as to other advice regarding airline policies, you probably should have stopped at "Contact your airline". Amateur advice can do no good.

so what, then, is the point of this inane waste of electrons? It's hard to NOT suspect that it is yet more PR nonsense: as people are suggesting, an effort to move other issues off the page.

Anonymous said...

Does the wedding dress have to be white to qualify at the checkpoint?

Wedding Photographer said...

As a destination wedding photographer I have often been impacted by the restrictions that are now in place in the US. I only wish that the officials I have encountered at airports had acted in line with the guidance given in this post

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for your comment. Whether an airport has federal security officers or privatized ones, they all follow the same TSA security procedures. So regardless of what airport you're flying out of, the procedures are the same. Hope this helps."

Pay more attention, Lynn. The problem is that TSA screeners frequently don't follow procedures. Private screeners will follow procedures or they will be replaced with a company that does a better job training. Had the TSA respected the public, been more efficient and, generally, been professional, chances are the public would have allowed it to continue. You had your chance, TSA, but you blew it.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks for your comment. Whether an airport has federal security officers or privatized ones, they all follow the same TSA security procedures."

Give us time, Lynn. First we will require that Mr. Pistole comply with the intent of Congress by privatizing and becoming more efficient.

"So regardless of what airport you're flying out of, the procedures are the same. "

Next, we will allow professionals to institute true security vs the current mess the TSA thinks is security.

"Hope this helps."

It will, Lynn, it will.

Fishstick said...

"Anybody can still get through a checkpoint if they want to."

Yes but TSA still limits the number of honest people, thus reducing the number going through screening.

Anonymous said...

"Yes but TSA still limits the number of honest people, thus reducing the number going through screening."

Exactly. Procedures inconvenience (and worse) honest passengers while providing no real impediment to dishonest ones.

Every airline gate has automated machinery to read boarding passes but $100B later, no such machines are in place for the screeners. Twice in the last year, I've been admitted to the "sterile" area with bad boarding passes; one for a subsequent leg of a trip and once with a boarding pass that was a week old.

Amazing.

RomeT. said...

Dear TSA,

I do happen to believe in you guys but reading the appalling comments here and I hate to say this... but you did open the door, did you not?

Yes I am one of the "small-minded" people now off-point...though is it? It is almost like the issue got skirted away in lieu of talking about something productive. Putting us "all" down before even giving us a chance to make an intelligent comment is a bit off-putting and quite frankly I feel offended that you would loop me into a category of other small minded folk, that probably do have it coming. But my family and I do not warrant this at all. We have supported you guys all along. Why wouldn't we? You guys are seeing to our safety... hello ... kind of important!

I am truly sorry there are such idiots on your site but could you please try a little more tact and goodwill. We aren't all small-minded and again I repeat there are too many of us that do support you! Okay I've said my peace-- Regards, Rome T.

RB said...

Still haven't heard from TSA on why dresses, wedding or otherwise, are of any concern to TSA.

Is TSA going to branch out into even more areas that have nothing to do with airport security, like you do know for drugs, money and such, and become the fashion police too?

What was the purpose of this Blog entry, it certainly had nothing to do with TSA?

Bianca said...

Thanks a lot for the very informative and straightforward post. I'm already engaged and we're getting married soon. And I strongly agree with you that planning a wedding specially away from home can be so stressful. And I'm glad to have wonderful tips from you. Keep it up!

photoshop said...

How many brides and grooms have you subjected to TSA's kangaroo-court civil fines over a cake cutter?

I know there's been at least one, but I'm sure TSA has a count somewhere of these "big catches" where you've saved us all from honeymooners with cake knives.

RB said...

RB said...
Still haven't heard from TSA on why dresses, wedding or otherwise, are of any concern to TSA.

Is TSA going to branch out into even more areas that have nothing to do with airport security, like you do know for drugs, money and such, and become the fashion police too?

What was the purpose of this Blog entry, it certainly had nothing to do with TSA?

March 23, 2012 9:05 AM
.......................

I quess TSA is branching out, what with a TSA TSM working as a PIMP.

Joseph Mills said...

For women, wedding dress is very big thing deal. She spent more time, energy and money just that to acquire such a thing. And handling is very important otherwise, she can’t smile on her wedding day---poor woman.. Thank you for the great piece of advice

Steven DeBech said...

We just got married in Germany and had to take my wife's wedding dress on the plane. It was such a pain, and we had to spend about a hundred quid getting it cleaned and prepped for the big day that in retrospect I would have paid a courier service to deliver it. It would have been cheaper, less of a worry and would have saved me a pretty rotten headache from my darling sweetheart clawing her eyes out waiting for that ominous laundry ticket.

cat said...

Its too bad fear is now playing such a huge part in flying. I used to love flying but now actually hate it. There are just too many hops to jump through. and now the Minneapolis airport makes everyone go through the scanning machine so you're standing there with your hands up in the air while someone looks at your naked body. humiliating. I try not to fly anymore unless absolutely necessary. it's a bummer.

Anonymous said...

I am about to be married also. But I also just got divorced.

Aarti Sharma said...

Its a great suggestion Lynn, this point has never been discussed anywhere and I hope that this would be allow by every airlines. Nice sharing. Carrying dress in the plane should be allowed, they can set measures for security checks.

Wedding Favors said...

We run a wedding favors blog site and this is great information to pass on. I too, was married in a destination wedding (in Key West, I lived in NY) and had to travel with my dress on board in 2003. I think the same travel restrictions applied then as it was post 9/11. I carried my dress on as carry on (back then there were no additional fees, I flew AA) and they happily stowed it in first class for me.

Since the dress (and documents and rings) are probably the most important things I would recommend only carrying these items on board with you. Everything else should be packed in your luggage - or as I tell my brides - ship it down to the hotel where you are staying in your destination. Most destination weddings have a wedding coordinator you can mail stuff too. And if you are considering buying things for your guests like wedding favors or destination "travel"/welcome bags - ship those as well because they are usually very heavy and will incur those extra baggage fees.

English to Tamil Translation said...

This is really a great piece of information.But flying should not be made a complicated thing.

Chris Allen said...

How does the TSA deal with people that are moving to canada? Is this TSA strictly for air travel?

Jess said...

For my wedding I flew overseas with my husband because that's where his family lives.

I don't think I ever had so many questions at the border... it was related to the political situation.

But yeah, I packed my suitcase full of bridal hosiery, accessories, make up, lingerie, hairspray, and such.

john mathew said...

I also notice ladies concern about wedding dresses. It will be destroy or anything happen wrong with it. She is right because it's very expensive and precious, may be your point help her . cheap wedding favors

Stef said...

@Mark (the first person to post on this thread): I adore your comment! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this! As someone from NY who is getting married in Vegas, I have to tote my $1300 dress on the plane and the last thing I want to deal with is having plane issues or having to pay extra to take it with me.

I guess I'll have to claim it as my carry on and have my future hubby claim my laptop as his carry on. May also have to look into taking on the plane vs having it shipped to the hotel.

Anonymous said...

My airline couldn't guarantee that I could put my dress in a closet - even though I was flying FIRST CLASS...so I mailed it to the hotel in Las Vegas a week ahead of time. On the way home I jammed it into my huge suitcase. And my wired bouquet went through the checkpoint with no problems.

Anonymous said...

Women are most conscious about their dresses and new fashion dresses. They always like to wear dress which she or any other women never wear.

Laura said...

Very nice wedding dress, thaks for sharing!

Mario Verville said...

A dress, wedding or otherwise, is not WEI so why would TSA even be involved in this discussion?

Bluestone Coupons said...

These dresses can be bring on the plane along with a girl that will take care while checking the dress effectively and efficiently so that dress will be fine.

Eddie said...

Thanks for sharing this! We find that our brides love info like this -- most of our brides are planning their wedding for the first and only time, so it's hard to know what's being missed!

Flower Advisor said...

It's hard to find a great wedding dress that completely fits a lady.

The more we look for, the more we find options. We must be smart and wise enough.

Ever Green said...

Thanks for the info. I like the info concerning the cake knife.

Marie said...

Hello Lynn, Amazing post!
I have a question: Why would TSA even be involved in this discussion, when a dress wedding or otherwise, is not WEI ?