Holiday travel is never easy. It’s crowded and you probably have family members and gifts in tow. It’s also not easy for the thousands of airport TSA agents who have to help make sure your flights are safe and as timely as possible.
But there are ways to make both your, and airport employees’, lives easier this holiday by brushing up on TSA rules on holiday items.
No gift left behind
TSA regional spokesperson Mark Howell said there are tips to help you get through security without missing your flight. Mostly, making sure your gifts are not gift wrapped — regardless if they’re in your carry-on or in a checked bag.
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When you take a wrapped gift into the airport, TSA agents will need to get into it to make sure that there is nothing nefarious hidden inside.
“We will try to rewrap it ourselves, but it probably won’t look as pretty,” Howell said.
TSA agents will most likely use “TSA tape” to rewrap the gift, meaning the recipient will know that someone else has been inside their gift, Howell said. Using a gift bag instead will make both TSA and your gifts easier.
If you’re gifting an item that looks like a weapon, like a NERF gun, don’t put it in your carry-on bag. Even with all the holiday traffic, TSA agents are going to take note of a gun-looking object trying to be brought onto a plane.
Howell said it’s easier for everyone to just put your toy weapons in a checked bag.
Season of eating
Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can’t contribute to the family’s potluck holiday dinner, depending on what you make.
Solid foods are acceptable and can be carried onto the plane. Hypothetically, you could drive to a grocery store, buy a precooked chicken, make sure it doesn’t have any pooled up juices and have it ready for dinner that night. Make sure that any sauce or marinade that you used to cook your food is not pooling up in excess of 3.4 fluid ounces.
Cookies, pies and frosting-less gingerbread men also are allowed on the plane, as are any other solid foods.
Sadly, you can’t bring the gravy along, unless it is less than 3.4 fluid ounces. This applies to any other liquid foods, drinks or confectioneries. The TSA website says that generally if it can spill, melt or otherwise make a mess, then don’t bring it on the carry-on.
You can check a bag with liquid foods safely stored in it.
A tip from TSA
TSA wants to help people’s trip go smoothly, and Howell said that they have an underutilized program in place to help.
While the gifts are an easy fix, the anxiety many feel going through TSA lines can keep many people from flying this December. Howell said his agency is here to help make the security check easier for those who need it.
TSA offers special procedures for those who cannot easily get through the TSA main screening lines. Howell said ideally people should give a 72-hour advanced notice that someone you’re traveling with needs help getting through security.
This program can help people with mental health conditions, disabilities or past injuries that can be make getting through security lines physically or emotionally overwhelming.
Once requested, TSA will have an agent help make sure the person’s needs are accommodated. The agency also will help people without advanced notice, but Howell said a heads-up makes it easier on everyone.