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TSA Traveler Safety and Luggage Requirements

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) wants you to get through the security checkpoint quickly and then travel on to your destination safely. The TSA officers ask that the traveler become an active partner in the efficiency of the security experience by (1) knowing the rules and by (2) carefully packing your carry-on and checked baggage.

Definitions:

Carry-on baggage is a small piece of luggage you take onboard the airplane with you. You are normally allowed one carry-on and one personal item such as a laptop computer, purse, small backpack, briefcase or camera case. These items will go through the security screening process.

Checked Baggage is luggage you check in at the ticket counter or at the curbside. It will not be accessible during your flight.

Locking Luggage: TSA screens every passenger’s baggage before it is placed on an airplane. While technology allows them to electronically screen bags, there are times when a physical inspection is necessary. If you want to lock your luggage, please use a TSA recognized lock. TSA has worked with several companies to develop locks that can be opened by security officers using universal “master” keys so that the locks may not have to be cut. These locks are available at airports and travel stores nationwide. The packaging on the locks indicates whether they can be opened by TSA. If your baggage alarms and our Security Officers cannot gain access to your checked bag, unrecognized lock may be broken.

Checklist for simplifying your overall security experience:

  • Pack an organized carry-on bag using layers. A layer of clothes, then electronic, more clothes, and then any heavier items. This will help security officers see what’s in your bag.
  • Have your boarding pass and ID ready for inspection when you get to the checkpoint.
  • Remove your coat and shoes and place them in a bin.
  • Place any oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in a separate bin. iPods, mp3 players and other smaller electronics can stay in your carry-on bag.
  • Follow the 3-1-1 rule for liquids and put your one quart baggie separately in the bin.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. If you’re not sure about whether you can bring an item through the checkpoint, put it in your checked bag or leave it at home.

Common mistakes made at the security checkpoint:

  • Not having boarding passes and IDs out for inspection.
  • Wearing bulky coats, sweaters and other items that make it difficult for the security officer to screen you properly.
  • Wearing shoes or boots with laces or other fasteners that are not easy to remove and put back on.
  • Forgetting to take laptops and other oversized electronics out of carry-on bags.
  • Forgetting the 3-1-1 rules on liquids, aerosols and gels.
  • Forgetting to declare exempt liquids like medicines, breast milk, baby formula and other items.
  • Leaving loose change, keys and other metal objects in pockets.
  • Bringing gifts that appear on the Prohibited Items list.

If you require any special assistance going through security, please notify a security officer as soon as you enter the checkpoint area.

How Can You Help The Security Process?

  • Arrive on time. Arrival time recommendations vary by airline and day of travel, so check with your carrier. A boarding pass and valid government photo ID are required to enter the security checkpoint. Remember to give yourself adequate time to check your baggage and move through security.
  • Do not wrap gifts. If a security officer needs to inspect a package they may have to unwrap your gift. Please wait to wrap gifts until you’re at your destination.
  • Pets. Please remove all animals from their carrying cases and send the case through the X-ray machine. Hold your pet in your arms and proceed through the metal detector.
  • Children. Please take your infants and children out of baby carriers and strollers and take them through the metal detector with you. Strollers and baby carriers go through the X-ray machine with your bags. If possible, collapse your stroller before you get to the metal detector.
  • Dress the part. Metal in your clothing may set off the screening machines. Pack coins, keys, jewelry, belt buckles and other metal items in your carry-on bag. Remember that all shoes must be removed and placed in bins. Passengers also need to remove winter coats, blazers, suit coats and bulky sweaters.
  • Film. Undeveloped film should go in your carry-on bag. Declare film that is faster than 800-speed to a security officer for physical inspection to avoid being X-rayed.
  • When in doubt, leave it out. Bringing prohibited items to the airport will delay the screening process for you and other passengers. If you’re not sure which items are allowed, check the Permitted and Prohibited Items.
  • Think before you speak. Belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes and threats will not be tolerated. They will result in delays and possibly missing your flight. Local law enforcement may be called as necessary.

What Can I Bring?

Air travelers may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in their carry-on bag when going through security checkpoints.

The following rules apply to all liquids, gels, and aerosols carried through security checkpoints.

  1. All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed. Each container must be three ounces or smaller.
  2. All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. Gallon size bags or bags that are not zip-top such as fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed. Each traveler can use only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
  3. Each traveler must remove their quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from their carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. X-raying separately will allow TSA security officers to more easily examine the declared items.

Exceptions:

There are exceptions for baby formula, breast milk, and other essential liquids, gels, and aerosols, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines (see details below).

To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of the following liquids, gels and aerosols are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary (all exceptions must be presented to the security officer in front of the checkpoint):

  • Baby formula, breast milk, and juice for infants and toddlers.
  • All prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including KY jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes;
  • Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition;
  • Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids; and,
  • Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions.

You are allowed reasonable amounts over 3 ounces of the items above in your carry-on baggage, but you will need to perform the following:

  1. Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.
  2. Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint.
  3. Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening.

Note: We have also taken steps to ensure the security of the boarding areas after you pass through our security checkpoints. Therefore, any liquid, gel or aerosol, such as coffee or soda, purchased in the secure area beyond the security checkpoint is allowed aboard your plane. Please note that if you have a layover and are re-screened at your connecting airport the current rules (see above) for carry-ons apply.

Additional Information: You are permitted to bring solid cosmetics and personal hygiene items as such lipstick, lip balm and similar solids. Piercings are not prohibited, but may alarm the metal detectors. Ideally, remove body piercings before security screening.

We ask for your cooperation in the screening process by being prepared before you arrive. We also ask that you follow the guidelines above and try not to over-think these guidelines. Please pack liquids, gels, and aerosols in your checked baggage even if you do not normally check a bag. In addition to liquids, gels, and aerosols numerous other potentially dangerous items are not permitted in carry-on baggage. We strongly encourage travelers to read more about previously prohibited items to avoid complications during screening.

Please keep in mind that these rules were developed after extensive research and understanding of current threats. They are intended to help air travelers bring essential toiletries and other liquids, gels and aerosols for short trips. If you need larger amounts of liquids, gels and aerosols such as toothpaste or shampoo, please place them in your luggage and check them with your airline.

This security regimen applies to all domestic and international flights departing U.S. airports. Travelers should, however, check with transportation security authorities in their country-of-origin for flights originating at non-U.S. airports.

Makeup, Medication, Personal Items & Special Needs Devices

Item Carry-on Checked
Aerosol spray bottles and cans Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
All creams and lotions including Neosporin or first-aid creams and ointments, topical or rash creams and ointments, suntan lotions, moisturizers, etc. Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Bubble bath balls, bath oils or moisturizers Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Bug and mosquito sprays and repellents Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Cigar Cutters Yes Yes
Corkscrews Yes Yes
Cuticle Cutters Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Deodorants made of gel or aerosol Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Eye drops – You are allowed to carry a 3 oz. or smaller container of eye drops in a clear, one-quart plastic bag. There is no restriction on the amount you may carry, but containers greater than 3 oz. must be declared to the Security Officer and cannot be carried in your clear, one-quart bag. Yes Yes
Eyeglass Repair Tools – including screwdrivers. Yes Yes
Eyelash Curlers Yes Yes
Gel-filled bras and similar prosthetics – Gel-filled bras may be worn through security screening and aboard aircraft. Yes Yes
Hair styling gels and spray of all kinds including aerosol Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Hair Straightener or Detangler Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Knitting and Crochet Needles Yes Yes
Knives – except for plastic or round bladed butter knives. No Yes
Lip gels such as Carmex or Blistex Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid lip glosses or other liquids for lips Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid bubble bath including gel or liquid filled Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid foundations Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid, gel or spray perfumes and colognes Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid sanitizers Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid soaps Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Liquid mascara Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Make up removers or facial cleansers Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Mouthwash Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Nail Clippers Yes Yes
Nail Files Yes Yes
Nail polish and removers Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Non-prescription liquid or gel medicines like cough syrup and gel cap type pills – You are allowed to carry up to 3 oz., of eye drops in a clear, one-quart plastic bag. Volumes greater than 3 oz. must be declared to the Security Officer and cannot be carried in your clear, one-quart bag. For more details see read our information on liquid medications. Yes Yes
Personal lubricants – You are allowed to carry up to 3 oz., of eye drops in a clear, one-quart plastic bag. Volumes greater than 3 oz. must be declared to the Security Officer and cannot be carried in your clear, one-quart bag. Yes Yes
Safety Razors – including disposable razors. Yes Yes
Saline solution – You are allowed to carry up to 3 oz., of eye drops in a clear, one-quart plastic bag. Volumes greater than 3 oz. must be declared to the Security Officer and cannot be carried in your clear, one-quart bag. Yes Yes
Scissors – plastic or metal with blunt tips. Yes Yes
Scissors – metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches in length. Yes Yes
Shampoos and conditioners Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Toothpaste Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Toy Transformer Robots Yes Yes
Toy Weapons – if not realistic replicas. Yes Yes
Tweezers Yes Yes
Umbrellas – allowed in carry-on baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed. Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Walking Canes – allowed in carry-on baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed. Yes Yes
NOTE: Some personal care items containing aerosol are regulated as hazardous materials. The FAA regulates hazardous materials. This information is summarized at www.faa.gov.

Electronic Devices

Item Carry-on Checked
Camcorders (See below) Yes Yes
Camera Equipment – the checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film in camera equipment. We recommend that you either put undeveloped film and cameras containing undeveloped film in your carry-on baggage or take undeveloped film with you to the checkpoint and ask the screener to conduct a hand-inspection. (See below) Yes Yes
Laptop Computers (See below) Yes Yes
Mobile Phones (See below) Yes Yes
Pagers (See below) Yes Yes
Personal Data Assistants (PDA’s) (See below) Yes Yes
NOTE: We recommend keeping fragile or expensive items with you in your carry-on bags.
NOTE: Check with your airline or travel agent for restrictions on the use of these and other electronic items during your flight.

Sharp Objects

Item Carry-on Checked
Box Cutters No Yes
Ice Axes/Ice Picks No Yes
Knives – except for plastic or round bladed butter knives No Yes
Meat Cleavers No Yes
Razor-Type Blades – such as box cutters, utility knives, razor blades not in a cartridge, but excluding safety razors. No Yes
Sabers No Yes
Scissors – metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches Yes Yes
Swords No Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and inspectors.

Sporting Goods

Item Carry-on Checked
Baseball Bats No Yes
Bows and Arrows No Yes
Cricket Bats No Yes
Golf Clubs No Yes
Hockey Sticks No Yes
Lacrosse Sticks No Yes
Pool Cues No Yes
Ski Poles No Yes
Spear Guns No Yes

Guns & Firearms

Item Carry-on Checked
Ammunition – Check with your airline or travel agent to see if ammunition is permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. If ammunition is permitted, it must be declared to the airline at check-in. Small arms ammunitions for personal use must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply. No Yes
BB guns No Yes
Compressed Air Guns (to include paintball markers) – Carried in checked luggage without compressed air cylinder attached. No Yes
Firearms – firearms carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in. No Yes
Flare Guns – May be carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in No Yes
Flares No No
Gun Lighters No Yes
Gun Powder including black powder and percussion caps No No
Parts of Guns and Firearms No Yes
Pellet Guns No Yes
Realistic Replicas of Firearms No Yes
Starter Pistols No Yes
NOTE: Check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply.

Tools

Item Carry-on Checked
Axes and Hatchets No Yes
Cattle Prods No Yes
Crowbars No Yes
Hammers No Yes
Drills and drill bits (including cordless portable power drills) No Yes
Saws (including cordless portable power saws) No Yes
Tools (greater than seven inches in length) No Yes
Tools (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
Screwdrivers (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
Wrenches and Pliers (seven inches or less in length) Yes Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

Martial Arts & Self Defense Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Billy Clubs No Yes
Black Jacks No Yes
Brass Knuckles No Yes
Kubatons No Yes
Mace/Pepper Spray – One 118 ml or 4 Fl. oz. container of mace or pepper spray is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. For more information visit www.faa.gov, click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly. No Yes
Martial Arts Weapons No Yes
Night Sticks No Yes
Nunchakus No Yes
Stun Guns/Shocking Devices No Yes
Throwing Stars No Yes
NOTE: Any sharp objects in checked baggage should be sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to baggage handlers and Security Officers.

Explosive & Flammable Materials, Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Blasting Caps No No
Dynamite No No
Fireworks No No
Flares (in any form) No No
Hand Grenades No No
Plastic Explosives No No
Realistic Replicas of Explosives No No
Flammable Items Carry-on Checked
Aerosol (any except for personal care or toiletries in limited quantities) No No
Fuels (including cooking fuels and any flammable liquid fuel) No No
Gasoline No No
Gas Torches No No
Lighter Fluid No No
Common Lighters – Lighters without fuel are permitted in checked baggage. Lighters with fuel are prohibited in checked baggage, unless they adhere to the Department of Transportation (DOT) exemption, which allows up to two fueled lighters if properly enclosed in a DOT approved case. If you are uncertain as to whether your lighter is prohibited, please leave it at home. Yes No
Torch Lighters – Torch lighters create a thin, needle-like flame that is hotter (reaching 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit) and more intense than those from common lighters. Torch lighters are often used for pipes and cigars, and maintain a consistent stream of air-propelled fire regardless of the angle at which it is held. Torch lighters continue to be banned. No No
Strike-anywhere Matches – One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches are permitted as carry-on items, but all matches are prohibited in checked baggage. No No
Flammable Paints (See Other Items below for non-flammable paints) No No
Turpentine and Paint Thinner No No
Realistic Replicas of Incendiaries No No
NOTE: There are other hazardous materials that are regulated by the FAA. This information is summarized at www.faa.gov, click on Passengers, then Preparing to Fly.
Disabling Chemicals & Other Dangerous Items Carry-on Checked
Chlorine for Pools and Spas No No
Small compressed gas cartridges (Up to 2 in life vests and 2 spares) Yes Yes
Fire extinguishers and other compressed gas cylinders No No
Liquid Bleach No No
Spillable Batteries – except those in wheelchairs No No
Spray Paint No No
Tear Gas No No
NOTE: There are other hazardous materials that are regulated by the FAA. This information is summarized at www.faa.gov.

Food & Drinks

Item Carry-on Checked
Beverages brought from home or purchased before reaching the security checkpoint in containers LARGER than 3 oz. No Yes
Beverages brought from home or purchased before reaching the security checkpoint in a 3 oz. or smaller container and in your quart-size, zip-top plastic bag. Yes Yes
Beverages purchased after security screening Yes Yes
Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Yes Yes
Canned or jarred goods such as soup, sauces, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables and jellies Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Cheese in pressurized containers Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Duty free alcohol and other Yes, but some restrictions apply. Yes
Gel based sports supplements Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Jell-O’s Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Pudding Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Whipped cream Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Yogurt or gel like food substances Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Flameless Ration Heater (FRH) – A product most commonly found in MRE’s, used to heat food packages. There is no limit on the number of MREs an individual may possess in checked or carry-on baggage, but the MRE(s) containing FRH(s) must be unopened (original factory seal is unbroken) Yes Yes

Other Items

Item Carry-on Checked
Gel-type candles No Yes
Gel shoe inserts – Gel shoe inserts are not permitted, but shoes constructed with gel heels are allowed and must be removed and screened. No Yes
Non-flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint Yes – 3 oz. or smaller container Yes
Flammable liquid, gel, or aerosol paint No No
Snow globes and like decorations regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation. No Yes