Friday, December 21, 2012

TSA Christmas Traveling Tips 2012

Smartphone with My TSA App Screenshot
The MyTSA App: Want TSA information anywhere, anytime?  Use the MyTSA app. Among the great features, there’s a “Can I Bring My…” tool. Want to know if you can pack a turducken or a light saber? This is the tool for you. 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. This isn’t a Magic 8 Ball, so please don’t expect it to prophetically answer yes and no questions. A wait time feature is also available. It relies on crowd sourcing, which means the more people who use it, the better. 

FruitcakeFoods: Cakes, pies, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc., are all permitted. Here is a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with liquid or gel food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy, jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer. As I said in last year’s post, contrary to popular belief, fruitcake is a delicious edible and permitted cake, not a WMD. 

TSA Precheck LogoRisk Based Expedited Screening: TSA has implemented TSA Pre✓™, an expedited prescreening initiative for known travelers, active duty service members and airline crewmembers at select airports, and modified procedures for screening passengers 12 and under and 75 and older to reduce, although not eliminate, the need for a pat-down. TSA Pre✓™ is currently available at 35 airports. 

Expanded Use of Canines: To further enhance explosive detection screening, TSA is expanding its use of canine teams and deploying them throughout the airport environment, including the security checkpoint. These teams are trained to detect trace amounts of explosives that are present in the air. 

Shaving Razors: You can get more info from our blog post on this subject where the pictures will answer all of your questions.

Food & PresentsWrapped gifts are allowed, but not encouraged: Wrapped gifts are allowed, but we recommend waiting until you land to wrap them. If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may have to open it. Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it’s not a guarantee and it also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this. We’d rather unwrap the gifts that are under our trees.

Eggnog can be an alternate to fuel depending on who’s mixing it. Sometimes there’s a fine line between a beverage and hazmat. Just sayin’…Remember the 3.4 oz baggie rule at the checkpoint. Unless it’s in small container (3.4 oz or less), this tasty liquid treat is not allowed.

  • 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 allowed in the 3.4 oz baggie.
  • 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.
  • Deodorant: Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is.
  • Gel Inserts for shoes are permitted.

Homemade Soda Machines and Other Gifts with Compressed Gas (CO2) Cartridges:  If you’re planning to take a homemade soda making machine on an airplane, be advised that they include CO2 carbinators, which contain compressed gas, to add the fizz to the soda.  Compressed gas cylinders are prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags unless the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e. the cylinder has an open end).  The type of carbinator in commercial soda making machines do not have this feature.   We recommend shipping this item to be safe. 

Some Snow Globes are Permitted Now: TSA now allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger's plastic 3.4 oz bag. Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids.

Loaded Guns
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 guns every day at checkpoints in the U.S. – some even loaded. Save yourself the hassle of a bag check, a police interview and a potential arrest by making sure you leave your gun at home.

Christmas Crackers: Not the kind you eat with a delicious cheese-ball (My mom makes the best), but the kind that “cracks” when you pull it apart. They’re really cool and are a part of a lot of people’s Christmas traditions, but they’re prohibited on aircraft.

TSA Contact Center Logo
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. Unfortunately, we can’t assist with questions related to preparing a turkey or any other delicious holiday staples.

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.

Ugly sweater.
Christmas Sweaters: As I said in last year’s post, while some Christmas sweaters can have a nauseating effect on passengers, they are currently permitted through TSA checkpoints. After searching the web for my favorite Christmas sweater pic this year, I had to go with this one.

Follow us on Twitter for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information. You can find a list of our national and regional twitter accounts here. Also, be sure to print out this handy travel checklist prior to packing. 

You can also visit and read our "What to Know Before You Go" page for even more travel tips.  

We hope these tips help improve your travel over the full Winter Holiday Travel period.

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

TSA Week in Review: Speargun, Grenades, and Guns Among Things Discovered at TSA Checkpoints This Week

Speargun: A speargun equipped with one spear was discovered in a carry-on bag at Houston (IAH).

discovered speargun

Inert Ordnance and Grenades Etc. – We continue to find inert hand grenades and other weaponry on weekly basis. Please keep in mind that if an item looks like a realistic bomb, grenade, mine, etc., it is prohibited - real or not. When these items are found at a checkpoint or in checked baggage, they can cause significant delays. I know they are cool novelty items, but it is best not to take them on a plane.  Read here and here on why inert items cause problems.

  • Three inert grenades were discovered this week in carry-on bags at Northwest Florida Beaches (ECP), Atlanta (ATL), and Norfolk (ORF). 

Discovered inert grenade

Items in the Strangest Places –It’s important to check your bags prior to traveling. If a prohibited item is discovered in your bag, you could be cited and possibly arrested by local law enforcement. Here are a few examples from this week where prohibited items were found in strange places. 

  • A multi-tool with a knife blade was detected concealed in a lead-lined film bag at Rochester (ROC).

stun gun
Stun Guns –  Eleven stun guns were discovered this week in a carry-on bags around the nation: Atlanta (ATL), Denver (DEN), Fayetteville (FAY), Jacksonville (JAX), Milwaukee (MKE), Minneapolis (MSP), Minot (MOT), New York Kennedy (JFK), Reagan Washington National (DCA), San Diego (SAN) , San Francisco (SFO)

Body Scanner Finds This Week: A magazine loaded with five .17 HMR rounds was discovered in the pants pocket of a passenger at Bismarck (BIS). Also, a knife with a 3 ¼” blade was discovered in the pants pocket of a passenger at Montgomery (MGM).

discovered .17 HMR rounds

discovered knife

Miscellaneous Prohibited Items - In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly, our Officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, Airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, and a lot of sharp pointy things -- to mention a few… 

Shotgun Shell Shaped Lights
Shotgun Shell Christmas Lights - EWR

Firearms - Here are pictures of some of the firearms our Officers found in carry-on baggage since I posted last Friday. See a complete list below.  

Loaded Guns
Loaded Guns

34 guns found at checkpoints this week.

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline. You can go here for more details on how to properly travel with your firearms. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the throughput is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions, that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.