We’re in the middle of the holiday season, and as many of us make final preparations to reunite with loved ones, we’d like to take time to remind you of some tips for packing and helpful pointers for your upcoming travel. If you still have last-minute shopping and to-do lists on your mind, make getting through the checkpoint one less thing to worry about.
1. Traveling with Gifts
Wrapped gifts are allowed, but not encouraged: We’re not the Heat Miser; however, we might have to unwrap gifts. 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.
Snow globes need to comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule if wish to take it in your carry-on bag. If it is a larger snow globe, please pack it in your checked bag. If you are unsure if the snow globe contains 3.4 ounces of liquid or more, the rule of thumb is that if it is smaller than a tennis ball, it is probably 3.4 ounces or less.
Toys are always fun to play with, but water guns, toy guns, toy swords and other items that resemble real firearms or other weapons can look just like the real thing in an X-ray. This can lead to evacuations and delays while explosives professionals try to resolve the alarm. Please pack these types of toys in your checked bag or ship them to their destination.
Fruitcake, cookies or other holiday treats are allowed, of course. If the food item is a solid (i.e.: ham, turkey, cake, pie, cookies), you can pack it in your carry-on bag. If the food item is spreadable or pourable, then it must also follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule to travel in a carry-on bag.
Batteries in gifts should be transported properly, so be sure to read about what types of batteries you can travel with.
2. Packing personal items
The rule of thumb for liquids, gels and aerosols: You’re allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or smaller sized containers that will fit in one sealed, clear, quart-sized zip-top bag – and one bag per person. Make life simple by packing liquids in your checked baggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the liquids rule.
Deodorant: Flying with deodorant isn’t a sticky situation. Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is. Read more this blog about deodorant.
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. Read our blog post on traveling with beauty products.
Jewelry: Read about the best practices when going through security with your jewelry. There are a few different choices that you can make based on what kind of jewelry it is.
Medication: One of the more popular questions we get from travelers is: “Can I travel with my medication?” The answer is yes, with some qualifiers.
Shaving Razors: In brief, all razors are allowed in checked bags. Disposable razors are allowed in carry-on bags, and safety razors with removable blades are not. Check out the blog post for pictures of razor examples and more information.
3. Getting Expedited Screening
TSA Pre✓® - TSA Pre✓® allows eligible travelers to receive expedited screening. In layman’s terms, it means you get through security quickly. The average wait time in TSA Pre✓® lanes is under 5 minutes! Even if a TSA Pre✓® line looks longer, they move much faster than a standard lane with more convenience. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. If you haven’t already, apply now!
TSA Pre✓® travelers (including those enrolled in Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI), have access to faster TSA Pre✓® lanes at more than 200 airports when flying with participating airlines. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, use the DHS trusted traveler comparison tool.
You can now check out TSA Pre✓® lane schedules at the nation’s largest airports. Enter the airport, day of week and time of day you’re traveling, and the tool will return the availability of TSA Pre✓® lanes. When no lane is available, travelers can show their boarding passes with the TSA Pre✓® indicator to receive expedited screening in a standard lane.
TSA Pre✓® Not Reflected on Boarding Pass: If you’re looking at your boarding pass and you don’t see the TSA Pre✓® indicator even though you’re an approved trusted traveler, we’re here to help! Get live assistance by tweeting @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger. Our AskTSA team can help resolve any issues. If you prefer to call, you can reach out to our contact center.
4. Traveling companions:
Traveling with children: Screening is simpler for children 12 and under, so they can keep their shoes on. Read about how to best pack for your child and read how “Kids rule the airport”. Children 12 and under may also travel through the TSA Pre✓® lane if one or both of their parents have it!
Taking Fido with you? Contact your airline first to ask about requirements, fees or restrictions they might have. Read about going through security screening with your pet and what every pet needs to know.
Flying with grandma and grandpa: Simpler screening is available for passengers 75 and older. This means they too can keep their shoes and light jacket on. Other screening procedures may apply should they travel with medical devices or aids.
5. Need Help?
TSA has several ways to get answers for travelers with questions, whether they are unsure whether an item can be carried through a checkpoint, or they are looking to find out what to expect if traveling with a medical condition or disability. Travelers can:
Ask TSA: Have questions? Reach out to our AskTSA team via Twitter at @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger. We have a team standing by from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays. If you prefer to call or submit an online form, you can reach out to our contact center weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and weekends/holidays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
Lose something? Contact the airport lost and found. It’s a good idea to tape your business card or contact info to your valuable electronics or other items. Not only does this help us contact you if you lose your items, it prevents travelers from grabbing the wrong item by mistake. You can also contact our AskTSA team via Twitter at @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger.
TSA Cares helpline: Call TSA Cares toll free at 855-787-2227 if you or a family member with a disability or medical condition has questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint 72 hours prior to traveling.
Find more helpful tips about lost or forgotten IDs, our updated MyTSA app, the new TSA Travel Tips webpage , and others in our Thanksgiving holiday blog post. We’re committed to ensuring your security, and TSA is taking every measure, both seen and unseen, to protect millions of air travelers and our transportation systems. TSA works around the clock to make sure you get to your destination securely. Happy Holidays!
Bob Burns - TSA Social Media