Summer’s almost here! I know this not because of my calendar, but because my daughters keep reminding me about the pool… With summer often comes travel, so if you’re traveling by commercial airliner, you’ll likely find some of the news and tips in this post helpful.
There are a few new things to talk about this summer. The TSA Contact Center has extended their hours, and we’ve modified screening procedures for low-risk passengers. Also, TSA Pre✓™ continues to grow with more airports and airlines coming on board. Read on to learn more about what’s new with TSA and also pick up a few travel tips along the way.
How to Avoid Additional Screening: The most important tip to help you avoid a pat-down is to take everything out of your pockets before screening and put items in your carry-on bag. Don't wear clothes with a high metal content, and put heavy jewelry on after you go through security. If you have a hidden medical device (insulin pump, ostomy bag, brace, etc.), please let the officer know.
TSA Pre✓™ Expedited Screening: TSA Pre✓™ continues to grow, providing expedited screening to eligible passengers at 15 airports, with plans to expand to more airports and airlines throughout 2012. If you’ve been contacted by your participating airline or if you’re a current member of one of CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs (Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI), be sure to opt in. If you would like to participate, click here and follow the simple directions to apply to become eligible for expedited screening. Click here to learn more about where TSA Pre✓™ is and where it’s coming to.
Other Risk Based Security Initiatives: Since last fall, TSA has implemented modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and younger. Passengers 12 and younger can now leave their shoes on during security screening. These new screening procedures also include permitting an additional pass through advanced imaging technology to clear any alarms, as well as greater use of explosives trace detection.
Additionally, TSA recently concluded a modified screening pilot program for passengers ages 75 and older. As the program proceeds toward full implementation, passengers 75 and older will undergo similar modified screening procedures to those 12 and under and will be able to leave on a light jacket or outwear when passing through security. Passengers 75 and older may see these procedures in place as they travel this summer.
TSA Contact Center: The Contact Center hours were recently extended and a representative is now available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Eastern time; weekends and federal holidays, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Eastern time. The TCC can be reached at 866-289-9673. Passengers can also reach out to the TSA Contact Center (TCC) with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or voice concerns.
TSA Cares Helpline: Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free 855-787-2227, 72 hours prior to traveling with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. A TSA Cares helpline representative is available during all TSA Contact Center hours.
The MyTSA App: Want TSA information anywhere, anytime? Use the MyTSA app. Among the great features, there’s a “Can I Bring My…” tool. Type in the name of the item you’re curious about and it tells you if the item is permitted or not, along with packing tips. Wondering if you can take your bug repellant on the plane? Check the app to find out. A wait time feature is also available. It relies on crowd sourcing which means the more people who use it, the better.
The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1 (Liquids, Gels & Aerosols): If you’re checking a bag, make things simple by packing liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the 3-1-1 liquids rules. (If you’re concerned about them leaking, do what I do and put them in a zip-top bag.) But I know that doesn’t work for everyone; either your trip is a short one or you’re only bringing a carry-on bag. If you have to take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading… 3-1-1 is a quick way to remember how our liquids policy works. You can read here for more details, but here is the gist: each passenger is allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or less sized containers that will fit in one sealed clear quart-sized zip-top bag – and one bag per person. Make sure you take the zip-top bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray.
Here is some information on frequently asked liquid, aerosol and gel items:
- Suntan & Sun Block Lotion: Lotions fall under the 3-1-1 procedures that I mentioned above. So do the aerosol spray lotions. Sun block sticks do not fall under this rule.
- Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc. should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine.
- Beverages: Wine, liquor, beer, and all of your favorite beverages are permitted in your checked baggage. You can also bring beverages packaged in 3.4 oz or less bottles in your carry-on bags in the 3-1-1 baggie.
Sporting Goods: Golf clubs, baseball bats (including the mini slugger bats), cricket bats, bows and arrows, hockey sticks, scuba knives, spear guns, etc. are all prohibited from being carried onto the plane. However, you can have put them in your checked bag.
Destination Weddings: Getting married soon? We’ve been asked about it a lot lately on our MyTSA app, so we wrote a post on it. Be sure to check it out for some great tips.
Camping, Hunting, or Fishing?: If you’re heading to the great outdoors, be sure to check out this post for tips on traveling with camping, hunting, and fishing gear.
Double Check Your Bag for Guns: Seriously!!! It sounds silly, but if you read our Week in Review posts, you’ll see that our officers find at least two guns every day at checkpoints in the U.S. A good percentage of those were loaded. The most common excuse is that the passenger didn’t know it was there or forgot it was in the bag. Save yourself the hassle of a bag check, a police interview and a potential arrest by making sure you leave your gun at home.
Shaving Razors: You can get more info from our blog post on this subject where the pictures will answer all of your questions.
Lost or Forgotten IDs: We’ve gotten many calls from people who’ve had a wallet stolen or lost on a trip and have no ID for their return trip. Don’t worry, if this happens to you, you’ll still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions. It’s wise to get to the airport a little earlier just to be safe.
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.