Avoiding common pitfalls at the TSA checkpoint at Harrisburg International Airport

Planning ahead is key to getting through the security checkpoint smoothly
Local Press Release
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
TSA has a free downloadable app, MyTSA, where you can enter an item and it will let you know if it is permitted to be packed in a checked bag, carry-on bag, either or neither. (TSA photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa.— Now that July is here, summer travel is in full swing at Harrisburg International Airport and across the country as more people get vaccinated, score a low fare to their desired destination and return to air travel.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials point to advance planning and packing properly to facilitate the screening process and ease your travel experience at the airport.

“It’s important to know what you can pack in your carry-on and checked baggage before arriving at the airport,” says Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns.”

Individuals who haven’t flown recently, are new to air travel or have previously only flown once or twice a year have started to take leisure flights to visit family, travel to meet friends, or take vacations. “We’re seeing a trend where many leisure travelers are getting stopped at our checkpoint because they have brought a prohibited item with them,” Keys-Turner says.

TSA offers several ways for travelers to find out if an item is permitted in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither. The TSA web site has a feature on the homepage called “What can I bring?” Type in the name of the item and it will let you  know if it should be packed in a checked bag or carry-on bag. The same handy feature is available on the free downloadable MyTSA app. The MyTSA app gives users 24/7 access to the most frequently requested airport security information on any mobile device, including a searchable database that will let you know whether an item can be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither. The app also identifies delay information and current weather conditions at your favorite airports nationwide.

TSA is also active on social media. Travelers can send a question via Twitter to @AskTSA or via Facebook Messenger for live assistance in answering your questions from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET weekdays; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

“Taking these steps to prepare for security screening will help ease your transition back into flying again when you’re ready to do so,” Keys-Turner adds.

The most common item that travelers bring to the checkpoint that is not permitted through the screening process are liquids, gels and aerosols that are larger than the acceptable limit. Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols that are 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or smaller through a checkpoint as long as those items fit into a one quart-sized, resealable bag. This is known as the 3-1-1 bag. Common travel items that must comply with the liquids rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sun block, mouthwash and lotions. Containers of liquids, gels and aerosols that are larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml), regardless of the size container can be transported in checked baggage.

3-1-1 sample bag photo
A 3-1-1 bag with small-sized liquid toiletries. (TSA photo)

Please remember to remove the filled toiletry bag from your carry-on and place it in a separate bin for X-ray screening.

The exception to the 3-1-1 rule is that due to the pandemic, TSA is now allowing travelers to bring 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 experience.

TSA officers also are seeing travelers arrive at the checkpoint with bottles of water, juice, energy drinks, coffee and soda. TSA officers will give travelers the choice to exit the security checkpoint to drink their beverages in the terminal or allow the officer to dispose of it. Travelers may bring empty containers such as a water bottle or insulated flask through checkpoints and fill them on the secure side of the checkpoint.

Leisure travelers may also want to consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck®. Travelers who are TSA PreCheck members travel with ease through a checkpoint. They have no need to remove shoes, belts, liquids, food, electronics or light jackets. Just submit an online application in five minutes and schedule an appointment at any of 380+ enrollment centers. Then come in for a 10-minute in-person appointment that includes fingerprinting for a background check. Receive a Known Traveler Number to enter into a future airline reservation to enjoy faster, more seamless and touchless screening the next time you travel.