Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Packing Right and Protecting Your Property – Tips for a Smooth Screening Experience


With spring break well underway, packing for air travel can sometimes be stressful. Still, following a few simple tips can help in protecting your property and with the screening process to give you peace of mind. 

The rule of thumb is to always check your bags for prohibited items. If you are in doubt, check out TSA’s list of prohibited items or enter the item in the “When I fly can I bring my…” feature on tsa.gov. Additionally, you may want to check the Federal Aviation Administration’s list hazardous items on its Pack Safe page.


A photo of screening at the checkpoint
Carry On: It is recommended that you keep your belongings in sight during the screening process. If you are carrying or wearing an item that might alarm our officers, requiring additional screening, you may ask that your belongings be brought to you to keep your property in sight. 

People regularly leave behind items deposited in the checkpoint bins. We strongly suggest that you double check the bins and collect all of your belongings before leaving the checkpoint. If you believe that any of your belongings might have been left behind at a checkpoint, visit the Lost & Found page for a list of TSA lost and found offices to reclaim your item.



A photo of a TSA officer screening the checked baggage

Checked Baggage: To ensure your security, TSA screens 100 percent of checked baggage. Remembering the following easy steps can help with the screening process.


  • It is recommended you not pack valuables or fragile items, such as jewelry, cash or electronics in your checked baggage. You may want ship them in advance to your destination. If you must bring them, we suggest that you take them with you in your carry-on baggage. Check out this posting on wearing jewelry through security.
  • Avoid over-packing the checked bag so that items do not spill onto the ground if the bag needs to be opened for an inspection. This way, the TSA officer will be able to easily repack and close the bag. This all is done under the watchful eye of closed circuit television cameras.
  • Place personal items such as toiletries and toothbrushes in a clear plastic bag to reduce the likelihood of handling if the checked bag needs to be opened and inspected. This will also help protect your other items from damage should containers of liquid or gels open or leak due to air pressure in the cargo hold.
  • When traveling with gifts, place them in a gift bag instead of wrapping them. If a wrapped gift alarms, appears to have been tampered with or poses any other security concerns, it will need to be unwrapped for additional screening.
  • TSA recognized locks, such as Travel Sentry® or Safe Skies®,* allow TSA officers to open and re-lock baggage, reducing the likelihood of damaging the lock or bag if a physical inspection is required. If your baggage needs to be opened and inspected, TSA may have to cut unrecognized locks to access your bags. TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes. TSA does carefully and respectfully handle your property. 
  • If your checked baggage is opened and physically inspected, TSA will place a notice of baggage inspection inside your bag. This is to inform you that an officer conducted an inspection of your property. TSA may randomly inspect checked baggage, regardless of whether an alarm is set off during screening.
  • Once the screening process is completed, your airline will transport your checked baggage on your respective flight, as well as deliver it to the baggage claim area. The majority of checked baggage is screened without the need for a physical bag search. Learn more about the screening of checked baggage.


A really good tip to keep track of your belongings is to label them. Place identification tags with your name, address and phone number on all of your baggage, including your laptop computer.  It is recommended you place an identification tag inside your baggage as well.

Before arriving at the airport, check with your airline or travel agent to determine the airline's baggage policy, including the number of pieces you can bring and size and weight limitations.

If you feel your property was damaged during the screening process and would like to file a claim, visit the TSA Claims page for more information. 

It’s important to always keep sight of your belongings and be aware of your surroundings. Public awareness is key for supporting security efforts; so remember “If You See Something, Say Something™.” 


Ask TSA icon
If you have any TSA related travel questions, please send a tweet to our @AskTSA team. They’re available to answer your questions, 8 a.m.- 10 p.m., Eastern Time, weekdays; 9 a.m. -7 p.m., weekends/holidays. Travelers may also reach out to the TSA Contact Center. The Contact Center (TCC) hours are 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 with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or voice concerns.

*Any reference to any specific commercial company, product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name, is provided for the information and convenience of the public. It does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or favorable treatment by TSA. TSA makes no claims, promises, guarantees, or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, as to the goods or services provided by any commercial entity. 

Bessy, TSA Public Affairs Guest Blogger


26 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know full well that screeners don't always leave notification when they have ransacked a passenger's bags. It's a great way to steal and then blame it on baggage handlers.

RB said...

Why does the TSA Can I Bring tool give a less than useful answer when asking if a person can bring nitroglycerin pills?

Why does @AskTSA block citizen access to that taxpayer funded government service?

Why does TSA suggest that valuables not be placed in checked bags? Is it because TSA is full of thieves?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking at my kid's juice box at the moment. It says it is 6.75 oz or 200 mL, which is twice your allowed container size. I could probably put 4 of these inside a quart bag. If these juice boxes were 100 mL each, I could probably fit 8 of them in a quart bag. They would all fit inside the quart bag and there would be 800 mL of liquid in either case. What difference does it make if they are in 100 or 200 mL containers?

Of course someone could claim to be diabetic and then the juice would be considered a medical liquid. Juice will take care of hypoglycemia. Then it would be allowed through security.

Anonymous said...

You state that it is "recommended" to keep your property in sight, and that "you may ask" to have your belongings brought to where you can keep them in sight.

Can you please confirm that passengers HAVE THE RIGHT to keep their property in sight, and it is not just a privilege that a screener can grant or deny?

In other words, can you please state that a screener cannot refuse a traveler's request/demand to keep their property in sight?

Otherwise a traveler has no protection from a TSA screener that wants to steal something from carry-on baggage by removing the baggage from the traveler's sight.

Chris Boyce said...

You conveniently obfuscated the fact that the biggest threat to our property is theft by a TSA clerk. Over 500 have been caught stealing from passengers. Of course, you deftly followed the TSA party line of blaming the passengers.

Anonymous said...

Don't bother using locks at all. Every time I have used them they were cut open. Even the TSA accepted locks.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I'm looking at my kid's juice box at the moment. It says it is 6.75 oz or 200 mL, which is twice your allowed container size. I could probably put 4 of these inside a quart bag. If these juice boxes were 100 mL each, I could probably fit 8 of them in a quart bag. They would all fit inside the quart bag and there would be 800 mL of liquid in either case. What difference does it make if they are in 100 or 200 mL containers?
========================================================================================================================================================================
The size of the container limits the size of the explosion if the liquid was an explosive. For example, small container equals small explosion, big container equals big explosion. Simple science.

Wintermute said...

Except your sinple science also shows that there is no liquid explosive that is stable in those small of quantities, so the restriction is pointless.

Anonymous said...

"The size of the container limits the size of the explosion if the liquid was an explosive. For example, small container equals small explosion, big container equals big explosion. Simple science."

There's zero science behind the liquid ban, as evidenced by the fact that TSA, despite ten years of requests, cannot point to a single independent peer-reviewed piece of research that supports it. Right, Curtis Burns and West Cooper?

RB said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Anonymous said...
I'm looking at my kid's juice box at the moment. It says it is 6.75 oz or 200 mL, which is twice your allowed container size. I could probably put 4 of these inside a quart bag. If these juice boxes were 100 mL each, I could probably fit 8 of them in a quart bag. They would all fit inside the quart bag and there would be 800 mL of liquid in either case. What difference does it make if they are in 100 or 200 mL containers?
========================================================================================================================================================================
The size of the container limits the size of the explosion if the liquid was an explosive. For example, small container equals small explosion, big container equals big explosion. Simple science.

March 20, 2016 at 10:46 AM

-----------------------------
So I can clear security with multiple 100 ML liquids and one larger empty bottle, and thencould combine them into one 300, 400, or 500 ml bottle.

Your answer just doesn't hold water.

You obviously failed science.

Anonymous said...

"...The size of the container limits the size of the explosion if the liquid was an explosive. For example, small container equals small explosion, big container equals big explosion. Simple science."

Except there are no liquid explosives. It is an idea, a concept, not a reality. The only binary explosives (liquid explosives) are so chemically and physically unstable that there is no way anyone is getting them into a juice box and to the airport. And 21 ounces of this magic liquid explosive would be just as explosive in one bottle of explosive compared to seven three ounce bottles.

Anonymous said...

> The size of the container limits the size of the explosion if the liquid was an
> explosive. For example, small container equals small explosion, big container
> equals big explosion. Simple science.

Yes, because after all, it would be impossible to take multiple small containers and combine all of them into a single, larger container after one was past the checkpoint.

the1andonlyinsain1 said...

I use tie wraps and I put them on upside down....It works and the TSA did put a note inside as well.

Fix the TSA said...

The "simple science" of (probably Bold) TSAnonymous's 3/20 reply about juice boxes ignores simple math.

4 × 200 = 800

8 × 100 = 800

Smaller containers do nothing to reduce total volume.

Anonymous said...

Except there are no liquid explosives. It is an idea, a concept, not a reality. The only binary explosives (liquid explosives) are so chemically and physically unstable that there is no way anyone is getting them into a juice box and to the airport. And 21 ounces of this magic liquid explosive would be just as explosive in one bottle of explosive compared to seven three ounce bottles.

research " the Bojenka Plot" I may have spelled that wrong.
It was a foiled attempt to take down a plane with a liquid bomb. They do exist.

Wintermute said...

Is this the plot where the would-be torrorists didn't even have boarding passes? Nor did they actually possess any explosives, much less liquid ones? Wanna try again?

Anonymous said...

Bold Posting Intern said "...research " the Bojenka Plot" I may have spelled that wrong. It was a foiled attempt to take down a plane with a liquid bomb. They do exist."

The attempt was foiled by the terrorists own ineptitude. And none of the prosed bombs would take down an airplane. And even if the plot was tried again today the security clerks at the TSA wouldn't catch the mythical liquid bomb nor would they find any of the parts required to make it work.

Wintermute said...

Correction: this is the pre-911 plot that wasn't foiled so much and bungled. The planned explosive is, indeed, liquid, but highly unstable; hence the bungling of the plot. It was never viable to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Bold Posting Intern said "...research " the Bojenka Plot" I may have spelled that wrong. It was a foiled attempt to take down a plane with a liquid bomb. They do exist."

The attempt was foiled by the terrorists own ineptitude. And none of the prosed bombs would take down an airplane. And even if the plot was tried again today the security clerks at the TSA wouldn't catch the mythical liquid bomb nor would they find any of the parts required to make it work.

correct, it was. But not until one passenger was killed in a test run. Thus indicating it is possible. Had the terrorist not messed up, you can bet that plan would have taken place again on a larger scale. I'm pretty confident with all the new procedures TSA officers use, they is a very high chance that could not happen again.

Anonymous said...

Is this the plot where the would-be torrorists didn't even have boarding passes? Nor did they actually possess any explosives, much less liquid ones? Wanna try again?

no, it isnt

Anonymous said...

Correction: this is the pre-911 plot that wasn't foiled so much and bungled. The planned explosive is, indeed, liquid, but highly unstable; hence the bungling of the plot. It was never viable to begin with

But not until one passenger was killed in a test run of a liquid explosive. It was actually a lap top computer that led to the details of the plot. Had that not happened, you can bet the attack would have been carried out again on a larger scale.

Wintermute said...

The larger scale you speak of was not viable. The explosives are simply to unstable to scale up.

Anonymous said...

The larger scale you speak of was not viable. The explosives are simply to unstable to scale up.

you are an explosives expert? Lets assume you're correct. Do you just assume that they (terrorist) would then just give up hope? If they could make it work on a small scale such as they did, do you not think they would then try to scale it up? Logic (oops sorry, forgot we cant use that here) would dictate that if something worked on a small scale, a test as it were, the next step would be to try to make it work on a larger scale.

Wintermute said...

Actually, yes. I do have some expertise in explosives and security. At least, these certifications say I do. How about you?

Wintermute said...

Also, did you just move the goalpost? You said the terrorists would have scaled up. You changed the argument when I disputed that possibility. Who has a problem with logic again?

Anonymous said...

Boldy tried some logic, and failed, with this one "...Do you just assume that they (terrorist) would then just give up hope?"

Yes. Yes I do. You and all your coworkers at the TSA have convinced me that the Terrorist just give up the minute they hit any security snag at the choke point. The liquid bombs get stopped by clerks everyday but since they were stopped we will never know how successful the TSA really is. You know, because the Terrorist just give up their nefarious plans immediately upon having their explosive peanut butter voluntarily surrender ed at the naked scanner line.

So yes, you have convinced me exactly that, the Terrorist just give up.