CLARKSBURG, W.Va. - The number of passengers who flew during the spring set records, and the summer season has been just as busy with more travelers than ever passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints.
The best way to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to prepare. Passengers who arrive at checkpoints prepared for air travel can have an impact on lowering wait times at security checkpoints nationwide, just as individuals who come to the TSA checkpoint unprepared for a trip can have a negative impact on the time it takes to clear the checkpoint.
The best advice is to prepare carry-on bags for coming through the checkpoint without any prohibited items inside and to follow the 3-1-1 regulation when carrying toiletries (up to 3.4 ounces in a one quart plastic bag and only one bag per person). Travelers should put large-size shampoo, conditioner, suntan lotion, shaving cream and anti-perspirant into a checked bag.
Passengers should alert a TSA officer right away if traveling with larger quantities of medically-necessary liquid medications such as cough syrup, baby formula or breast milk, among others.
It is important for travelers to make sure that they do not have any prohibited items in their luggage. Check TSA’s web site feature, “When I fly, can I bring my ________?” at tsa.gov. Type in an item and find out immediately if you can bring it in your carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither. Travelers who bring prohibited items to airport checkpoints are given choices by TSA officers. Travelers can return the item to their car. They can hand it off to a non-traveling companion who is waiting to see them off. They can put the item into a checked bag. Or they can surrender the item to TSA for disposal. The choice is up to the traveler.
Unfortunately a common mistake that some travelers make is that they arrive at checkpoints with knives on keychains, in knapsacks, in handbags, in duffle bags and some even show up at the airport with utility knives hooked onto their belts or onto their pockets. Another common mistake is that hunters sometimes have loose rounds of ammunition in a jacket pocket or in a knapsack. Fishermen sometimes leave fishing knives in their knapsacks. None of those items are permitted past a TSA checkpoint. TSA advises travelers to completely empty a backpack, suitcase or duffle bag to make sure that there are no prohibited items inside before starting to pack for a flight.
Individuals who are traveling with a firearm, firearm parts, ammunition and antique or realistic replica firearms—are not permitted to fly with the items in carry-on bags. Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA up to $12,000.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
TSA’s website has details on how to properly travel with a firearm. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.
Travelers who are not sure if an item is allowed through the security checkpoint can contact a TSA employee for live assistance 365 days a year via Twitter. Tweet questions and comments to @AskTSA from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. weekends/holidays. Or send TSA a direct message via Facebook.
Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 1-855-787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint 72 hours prior to traveling. Injured service members and veterans including individuals associated with a wounded warrior program may contact TSA Cares to help facilitate the screening process.
The TSA Contact Center is available to answer questions by email and phone at 1-866-289-9673. Staff is available from 8 a.m. - 11 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. weekends/holidays; and an automated service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.