Now that you have your shiny brand-new passport, and have booked your dream getaway with your favorite travel advisor, let’s talk about TSA (they have to do their job people, be nice!), and the rules you need to follow to get through airport security. I’m sure most of you already know them, but on the off chance you’re a new traveler, or aren’t ever quite sure what you can and can’t bring on your carry-on, read on!
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is a division of the Department of Homeland Security. They are responsible for handling traveler screening of all passengers. You’ll make their job easier if you have your passport and boarding pass ready when you arrive at the airport security screen line.
In the United States, you can bring 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item into the airplane on most airlines. Discount airlines do have stricter rules. Also, make sure your luggage is the correct size and fits in the allotted space. Be sure to check with your airline for correct information.
Carry-On Bag: 3.4 ounces (100 mL) or smaller-sized containers that fit in 1-quart-sized resealable bag may go in carry-on and through checkpoint security.
Checked Bag(s): Containers that are larger than 3.4 ounces (100 mL), regardless of amount inside must be in checked baggage.
You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. They must all fit in a 1-quart zip-closure clear plastic bag. Separating from your carry-on bag facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage. Anything larger than 3.4 ounces will be confiscated, including bottled water.
Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste that alarms during screening will require additional screening.
EXEMPTIONS Neverput prescription medications in a checked bag, carry on all medications!
Medications: Medications in pill or other solid form must undergo security screening. It is highly recommended that medication be clearly labeled to facilitate the screening process. It is not necessary to present your medication to or notify a TSA officer about any medication you are traveling with unless it is in liquid form.
You are responsible for displaying, handling, and repacking the medication when screening is required. Medication can undergo a visual or X-ray screening and may be tested for traces of explosives.
Hand Sanitizer: TSA understands that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is at the forefront on the minds of travelers, as health officials are encouraging that individuals wash their hands frequently. With that in mind, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces per passenger in carry-on bags until further notice. Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint screening experience.
Please keep in mind that all other liquids, gels and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be allowed at the limit of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag.
3-1-1 Liquids Rule Exemption: TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to TSA officers at the checkpoint for inspection.
Remove them from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You are not required to place your liquid medication in a plastic zip-top bag. If a liquid, gel, or aerosol declared as medically necessary alarms, then it may require additional screening and may not be allowed.
Other items allowed:
Prescriptions (pills, liquids, etc.) and over-the-counter medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact lenses
Breast milk and baby formula
Liquids and gels necessary for a passenger with a medical condition (such as water, juice, or “liquid nutrition” like Boost)
Accessories associated with medication, such as ice packs, freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes
Mastectomy products and other cosmetic or medical augmentation items that contain gel or liquid
Inform the TSA officer if you do not want your liquid medication to be screened by X-ray or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid and you will undergo additional screening procedures to include a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.
Items NOT allowed: Many items aren’t allowed through a TSA security checkpoint. While some of these items may seem like common sense, some are surprising.
Liquids, creams, and gels exceeding the allowance
Alcohol over 140 proof
Harsh or corrosive chemicals
Weapons and/or ammunition*
Explosives (including fireworks and other flammable items)
Knives (unless rounded or plastic)*
Medical marijuana and CBD oil that contains THC
*Some of these are allowed in checked luggage (such as knives and firearms) but require special consideration. Other items are not allowed, no exceptions. It’s best to check with your travel advisor or TSA if you are unsure
STANDARD SCREENING VERSUS TSA PRECHECK SCREENING As you know, standard screening requires that you remove all items and place them on the X-ray belt for screening. With TSA PreCheck, you are able to speed through security and don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. I highly recommend applying for TSA PreCheck, which helps you experience a smoother screening process. According to the TSA, 93% of travelers wait in line less than 5 minutes!
The bottom line is…TSA always makes the final call on whether an item is allowed through security or not. If in doubt, pack the items in your checked luggage or don’t bring them at all.
Planning ahead and packing properly can help speed up the screening process and make your travel experience at the airport much easier.