Airport Security and You
Since the events of 9/11, air travel has become increasingly more confusing – security agents, screening, full body pat-downs, full body x-ray scanners – which is to say nothing of the ever widening lists of allowable and not allowable items you can take on a plane within your carry-on luggage, and more importantly, how the regulations of packing these items.
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is continually changing the safe list items and the methods in which these safe items can be packed in your luggage. These changes are generally viewed by many as overbearing and frustrating, leaving many air travelers confused.
However, you can avoid aggravation, disappointment and losing your patience by following these steps to know how to pack when you travel by air.
Carry-on toiletries and liquids in travel-sized bottles.
To carry on, you must place each liquid in a 3.4 ounce or less container. All your containers must fit into one, quart-sized, clear, resealable baggie. And you may only carry on one baggie per passenger. Find exceptions, such as medications, on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) website.
Check or carry on such electronic devices as cell phones, cameras, camcorders, laptops, pagers and personal data assistants (PDA’s).
Make sure you pack undeveloped film and cameras, housing undeveloped film, in carry-on bags. Security equipment used for screening checked baggage may damage your undeveloped film. Place your film in your carry-on baggage or request a hand inspection. The X-ray machine that screens your carry-on baggage at the passenger security checkpoint will not affect undeveloped film under ASA/ISO 800.
Pack your semi-sharp personal items in either carry-on or checked baggage. Such items, which previously were banned in carry-on bags, but no longer are, include nail clippers and files, tweezers, knitting needles and scissors with blades shorter than four inches. Bring gifts for friends and family unwrapped in both carry-on and checked baggage. For security measures, TSA officials may need to unwrap anything they find suspicious.
Also, always pack laptops or camcorders at the top of your bag or luggage, this will ensure the security agents don’t have to unpack your entire bag to check them. For those traveling with medications of any sort, if you pack them in their original pharmacy-dispensed containers, you should avoid too much hassle as to their origins and use. Some exceptions are of course allowable with regard to carrying needles for insulin, etc.
It’s likely a good idea to remove all metal items and place them with your carry-on luggage before reaching the security checkpoint. Such items may include cell phones, jewelry, belt buckles, loose change, keys, pagers, etc. It’s an inconvenience but it’ll save you some time. Another preemptive time saver while you’re waiting is to ensure that you have your valid identification and boarding pass available when reaching the front of the line. Security personnel will request these before you will be allowed to proceed. It’ll be better for everyone if you have these ready to show customs agents instead of having to dig through your coat or bags fumbling around looking for the required documents.
The official T.S.A. website has a regularly updated column called “What To Know Before You Go” that has comprehensive information regarding all rules, regulations, allowable/disallowed items and tips to ensure you don’t end up disappointed by being unprepared. Once you’re packed and at the airport, you’re committed to maintaining a tight schedule and there will be almost no allowances for the extra time you require to dispute any rules or regulations you’re unprepared for. If you are unsure at all about anything you have to pack, check the TSA website and your local airport for additional information.