Posts Tagged ‘Airport security’

Electronic gadgets – To pack or not to pack?

Posted in Electronics, Travel on April 20th, 2021 by – 17 Comments

While electronic gadgets were created for convenience and entertainment, sometimes they can be frustrating at places like airport security checkpoints. This is an alert for our tech junkies with gadgets like laptops, laptop accessories, MP3 players, iPod, pager, cell phone, Kindle, video game consoles, video cameras, DVD players and much, much more.

I can completely understand the fun in listening to your favorite music, watching a movie filled with humor, or playing a thrilling game that makes time fly while on a plane. However, the TSA says Pay now, Play later. If we follow the TSA rules, we can have a fun enjoyable flight. All we need to do as travelers is pay attention to their rules especially for the electronic gadgets and it will make our security process smooth and neat.

Few quick gadget security tips:
Simplify…have only the electronic gadgets, which are crucial on your journey. This can quickly add up though between your laptop, phone, iPod, GPS and Kindle.  Besides the laptop and dvd player, many of your electronics can stay stored in your carry-on while passing through security – even your Kindle!  TSA prefers that you put most of your electronics in your carry-on as it makes it easier to screen the devices.  I once was pulled aside in security for an iPod docking station (last minute purchase).  I didn’t even think it was something that would be a concern…but it was!

Most corporate travelers have their laptops in their carry-on luggage. The best thing to do is to have laptops in checkpoint friendly bags. For more information on the styles, visit http://tinyurl.com/358hojk .  The seasoned business traveler has this process down to a science.  It really is important though for the average traveler to keep all the electronics organized.  Mini, convenient packing cubes are perfect for packing cords and small electronics.

Don’t be surprised if you are requested to switch off all your battery-powered devices. While packing your carry-ons, make sure the electronic gadgets are organized to make the screening process easier. If not, your bags have to undergo additional screening process, which would be more time consuming.

Every airport within U.S and international airports have similar regulations for electronic gadgets. If you are planning for a domestic or international travel, it is highly recommended to check the electronic regulations for the country.  You wouldn’t want your favorite gadget to end up in the hands of TSA in another country…never to be seen again!

What is the ONE gadget you can’t stand to travel without?  Have you ever had electronics confiscated?  Please share your gadget drama.

BottleWise is committed to manufacturing high-quality bags that make life easier for the discriminating culinary traveler and is founded by Amy Dias (adias@bottlewise.com).

Carry-Ons: Right vs. Wrong

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Packing Liquids, Travel, TSA Regulations on February 7th, 2012 by – Be the first to comment

Sue Ellen: average height, slender build, simply dressed, frazzled mind, and bloodshot eyes. She’s a smart woman, but let’s face it, she’s been working hard. It’s 11:30 PM and Sue Ellen has yet to pack for her trip to New York City tomorrow at 5:00 AM.

So what results? Sue Ellen grabs an energy shot and begins a whirl of activity. She dumps in three pairs of slacks, a skirt, four blouses, a scarf, three blazers, a jewelry box and her mismatched, dirtied, TSA approved zip-lock bag into an over sized duffel bag. On top of that she throws in her two pairs of bulky high-heeled shoes. Of course, her laptop fits in there….somewhere. Finally the miscellaneous items: a snack bar, her iPod, headphones, portfolios and a few pens. All in all, her bag is a dump yard.

Alright, so we already have a bad feeling about this scenario. Let’s fast-forward and see how it pans out. A tired, sleepy Sue Ellen arrives at the airport and hurries through check-in. She lugs her duffel bag through security but is stopped. Her bag has to go through another security check. The attendant dumps out all her bag’s contents. The zip-lock bag has opened and ruined her good slacks and shoes. Her nice blouses are wrinkled. The security attendant discards her zip-lock and allows her to proceed. Not only do the few minutes cause Sue Ellen to miss her flight, but she has no toiletries and soiled clothing. What a great start to her business trip!

Now if we back track, we can see that the crucial point was Sue Ellen’s hurried packing job. Could she have done things differently? Yes, perhaps she could have. Here are few tips that may have helped her out to pack her carry-on bag:

  • Pack in layers and be organized. Rolling clothing helps reduce wrinkles and saves space.
  • Don’t over-pack clothes and shoes.  Many outfits can be mixed and matched over a few days.
  • Invest in one piece of carry on luggage that is easy to pack and fits nicely in the crowded overhead bins.
  • Pack a second carry-on (backpack, handbag or computer case) with your laptop or electronics you need access to easily on your flight.
  • Pack items that need to be removed in security (toiletries, computer, etc) in one carry-on. This avoid having to rustle through both of your approved carry-on pieces.
  • Use travel-size bottles for cream and liquids that aren’t bigger than 3 oz.
  • All liquids should fit into a quart sized, transparent plastic bag
  • Declare or discard any liquids that you have (baby formula, juice, medications, bottled water, etc.)before getting into line.  You are not only going to delay yourself, but others behind you.

Most of the above is pretty simple. The only challenge is getting those liquids under control. Who wants to be running around the last minute, tearing the house apart for small containers to put shampoo in? After all that hard work, you won’t even be sure that those liquids won’t leak! As cabin pressure changes, often liquids are caused to leak out of containers. Who wants to deal with that?

This is why BottleWise offers travelers  few alternatives to help make packing your toiletries at various price points. TravelRite Kit comes with TSA approved bottles with tops and a see-through plastic bag. If you’re more of the simple type or just new a few leakproof bottles, Go Toobs are for you. If the cabin pressure has been messing with your plastic bottles, then a great thing to do is check out Pitotubes; they don’t let those liquids leak!

Be sure to check out our great savings on all of our toiletry items to make your next trip mess free!  Safe Travels.

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Security Checkpoint – A Pit Stop in your journey

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Packing Liquids, Travel, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on January 30th, 2012 by – 1 Comment

Imagine this…you’re planning a trip from your home in the city of Chicago to Washington DC, which would be roughly a two hour journey by flight. But, you’ve got to keep in mind that the security checks prior to the journey will waste two whole hours of your valuable time. No matter frequent of a traveler, there’s no way around the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules. You still have to stand in long lines and disrobe yourself multiple times. Doesn’t that become a pain? Of course, but proper planning always helps. Especially in travel nowadays, it really makes much more sense to plan with the increasing rules from the TSA. Let’s see what the travelers have on their mind about the security check…

Can I carry my favorite shampoo and toothpaste?
You can carry limited amounts (3 oz. gel or liquid) in your carry-on. Good news! There are several great products on the market that make packing your favorite shampoos, creams and makeup a breeze.  GoToobs are a compact, reusable and inexpensive solution.

I need my prescription medication and how about food for my baby?
Thank goodness, they are exempt from the rules. However to expedite the process place these items in their original labeled containers.

I’m a photographer, is it safe to have my film rolls in carry-on?
X-Ray machines for carry-on are considered safe. It would be better to carry the rolls in clear plastic bag. Depending on the number of security check points during your travel and minimal exposure is better.

What can I expect in passenger screening?
Unlike your baggage, which undergoes X-Ray exposure, you, as a passenger, don’t have to do the same thing. However, it is mandatory to remove your shoes, place your cell phone and any other metal items like keys along to be screened as well.

I am going on a wine tour in the Fall, how can I bring home a few bottles of wine? Unfortunately, with the new TSA regulations, you must pack any liquids over 3 oz in your checked baggage.    There are a few products on the market that make packing large, fragile bottles of liquid a breeze!  The BottleWise Duo easily packs two bottles of wine or spirits in your luggage.  This bag is reusable and lightweight!

Last but not least, it is always better not to argue with the TSA authorities if they confiscate something from you. Argument never makes the situation better, especially with the security authorities. If they feel that your nail clippers might be a potential danger, just say, “So be it!” and pass the security check. You don’t want to miss your flight with such expensive tickets for something that is worth less than a dollar.

What have you had confiscated by TSA in your journeys recently?

BottleWise is committed to manufacturing high-quality bags that make life easier for the discriminating culinary traveler and is founded by Amy Dias (adias@bottlewise.com)

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Less graphic body scanning machines being tested

Posted in Travel, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on November 9th, 2011 by – Be the first to comment

Tests are beginning on a software change in airport passenger scanning machines that will discontinue the display of personal body characteristics while still promising to catch questionable objects, the Transportation Security Administration said Tuesday.


“We believe it addresses the privacy issues,” Administrator John Pistole told reporters at a demonstration of the new software, now being tested at Reagan Washington National Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

If the field trials are successful, the software will be put into the advanced imaging technology machines already being used at airports across the country.

Privacy advocates and many air passengers have expressed concern about the level of personal detail the machines provide in their current configuration, even though the agency tried to mitigate those concerns by having the officers who viewed the images sit in a remote location so they could not connect any image to a particular passenger.

In Tuesday’s demonstration, Transportation Security staffers walked into one of the newly configured machines and stopped with their arms raised, as passenger being scanned are asked to do. A small video monitor near the unit’s exit displayed the results for both the passenger and the security officer operating the machine.

Those who deliberately carried objects were detected and portrayed as generic human outlines, with regions of their body highlighted by a box indicating additional security attention was warranted.

Those who carried no questionable objects saw a screen that was green with “OK” in the middle.

Pistole acknowledged Transportation Security workers will no longer be able to see the shape and size of the questionable objects that are detected by the machines.

“That’s one of the things we’ll be assessing in our pilot testing at the three airports,” he said. “How do the security officers engage the passenger based on what they’re seeing, and is there any diminution of efficiency in terms of what we’re doing?”

The software upgrade takes several hours per scanning machine, but involves very little additional cost, officials said. When the new software is installed, it will no longer be possible for TSA workers to observe detailed characteristics of the subjects’ bodies.

“We don’t intend to leave the monitors in place when we go to retrofit the software,” said Robin Kane, the Transportation Security Administration’s chief technology officer. “The way we will have them in the field they will not run concurrently.”

Kane ruled out reinstating a detailed visual capability even when a threat level is raised.

Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, welcomed the new software. She has been among the most vocal of the critics calling for a change in the whole-body scanning procedure to address privacy concerns.

“We have the technology that will eliminate the need for American air travelers to choose between their privacy and security when they choose to fly,” she said in a news release.

“I understand that the machines being installed in this pilot program do not emit radiation,” she added. “Although the TSA assures me that some of the machines in use that emit radiation do not pose a health risk, it is preferable to use technology that avoids exposure.”

Some 2,000 “whole body” test images from advanced imaging technology machines were the subject of a recent court challenge by people concerned about an invasion of privacy, but a judge ruled against releasing those images, saying it might disclose capabilities to potential terrorists.

Machines in use for the general public do not record images, authorities say.

Last month’s federal court decision was a setback for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which had sued the government for release of material to determine how the technology would affect privacy and civil liberty concerns.

By Paul Courson, CNN

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Holiday travel: Airport survival guide

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Airline Fees, Airline Service Charges, Packing Tips, Travel, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on August 12th, 2011 by – Be the first to comment

The crowds. The lines. The security and scanning. The sprint to the gate. All of it can overwhelm air travelers — especially during the holiday rush — but it doesn’t have to be that way.

And as security measures continue to ramp up, with pat-downs and new scans, navigating overbooked, overflowing airports just got a bit more dicey. We asked travel experts to provide tips to make the airport experience a smooth one, especially if you haven’t flown since last holiday season. But first, be aware that you’ll have lots of company in your quest to share a turkey dinner with relatives.

It’s estimated that 42.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, according to AAA and IHS Global Insight. That’s an 11 percent increase from last year, when 37.9 million people traveled during the holiday. And about 24 million people will be crammed into airplanes, a 3.5 percent increase over last year, according to the Air Transport Association of America, which represents somHoliday Travele of the nation’s biggest airlines.

The busiest travel day is expected to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving, followed by the Monday after the holiday, the ATA said. The Friday before Thanksgiving week and the Wednesday before the holiday will be the other peak travel days.

The least busy travel day? The holiday itself: Thursday, November 25.

No matter what day you fly, here are five tips to survive the airport this holiday season.

1. Hit the web before you head for the airport

Let modern technology save you some hassles and maybe even some money. Check in online up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave, and print your boarding pass at home.

“This allows you to secure your seat assignment, double-check for any schedule changes … and decrease your chances of getting bumped if your flight is oversold,” said Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity.

New since the holidays last year: More carriers now allow you to check in from your smartphone and use a digital bar code on the screen to pass through the airport. If you’re using this option, save the bar code as a photo on your device, which will make it much easier to retrieve at security and at the gate, advised Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights.

If you’re checking bags, many airlines have raised their fees this year, but some offer discounts if you prepay during the online check-in. Delta, Continental and US Airways, for example, take $2 off the first bag and $3 off the second if you pay online when you check in for your flight on the carrier’s website.

“Know before you go,” Saltzburg said. “There are fees, and it’s important to educate yourself and be prepared and handle as much of the check-in process before you actually get to the airport.” He recommended the ultimate airline fee guide on SmarterTravel.com to get a clear picture of any extra charges you might pay.

2. Pack light

Avoid checked-bag fees altogether by bringing carry-on luggage only. (Be sure to check with your carrier on the maximum size of bags allowed in the overhead bins.) You can head straight for the security line when you arrive at the airport and skip the baggage carousel after your flight lands at your destination.

New since the holidays last year: Spirit Airlines now charges a fee for carry-ons that passengers place in the overhead bins. (Each traveler can still bring one personal item that fits under a seat for free, such as a purse or briefcase.) Every other airline allows one piece of luggage and one personal item to be carried on for free by every ticketed passenger, Brown said.

3. Give yourself plenty of time

TripAdvisor recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure for a domestic flight and three hours before an international trip, Saltzburg said. It’s especially important to get to the airport early during the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel rush, because the many inexperienced fliers and families with children who are venturing out during the holidays will probably slow down the security process.

New since the holidays last year: Beefed-up screening means that lines may be moving more sluggishly. “Body scanners and additional pat-downs are the norm these days, leave extra time to get through security,” Brown said.

4. Prepare for the security line

There’s no avoiding your encounter with Transportation Security Administration agents, and there’s tension in the air as hundreds of travelers grab bins and shuffle through with their belongings.

“The one place you’ll tend to have to queue is going to be at airport security, and it’s probably your most stressful part of the trip,” Saltzburg said. You can’t speed up the line, but you can do your part to prevent slowing it down. Here are some basic tips:

  • Have your boarding pass and ID easily available.
  • Remove your shoes. (“Slip-on shoes should make going through security much faster,” Saltzburg advised.)
  • Make sure all of your liquids are in a zip-top plastic bag that’s kept separate from your carry-on bag and adheres to the 3-1-1 rule: Fliers are limited to 3-ounce or smaller containers of liquids or gels, that can fit in a one-quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag; one bag per passenger.
  • Send coats and jackets through the X-ray machine.
  • Take any items that might set off the metal detector — like keys, loose change and heavy jewelry — out of your pockets.
  • Don’t wrap any gifts. If security officers need to inspect a package, they may have to unwrap it. If traveling with food, check the TSA’s list of items that should be checked or shipped ahead.

5. Plan for flight delays

Don’t expect all of your Thanksgiving travel plans to happen without a hitch, Orbitz.com advised. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and if you have connecting flights, build buffers into your itinerary so that one disruption won’t jeopardize your entire trip. “Keep any medication you need and something to keep you busy in your carry-on bags,” Brown said.

Saltzburg, who flies several times a week, said he depends on noise-canceling headphones to provide him with moments of Zen. “I put my headset on, and it tunes out the world around me,” he said.

Safe Travels.

This article was written by A. Pawlowski, CNN

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How to Survive 10 Travel Emergencies

Posted in Family Travel, Packing Tips, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on December 28th, 2010 by – Be the first to comment

Crashed your rental car? Missed a flight? Lost a passport? Don’t panic: When the you-know-what hits the fan, we have the strategies to salvage your vacation.

What Should I Do When…

…I MISS MY FLIGHT?
Get to the airport right away and ask to be put on the next flight. If an agent gives you grief, explain why you missed the flight—particularly, why it wasn’t your fault (snarled traffic, for instance). Airlines are more likely to ask for additional payment if an agent thinks you missed the flight simply because you wanted to change your ticket without paying a change fee. With a little luck (and a sympathetic agent), you’ll be on a flight later that day at no extra charge.
Worst case: Paying the difference between your new ticket and the original fare, plus a ticket-changing fee of about $150 for domestic flights.
When all else fails: Realize that no matter what the official policy is, agents can cut you some slack. Mentioning that you belong to the airline’s frequent-flier program can’t hurt. May we also suggest crying as a tactic?

…THE AIRLINE LOSES MY LUGGAGE?
Take the obvious first step and contact the airport’s lost-and-found. File a bag-claim form and ask about the airline’s policy for reimbursing you for toiletries and other essentials. Most bags are recovered and will be shipped to you (at home, a hotel, wherever—and at the airline’s expense), so stay polite.
Worst case: About 2 percent of delayed luggage disappears forever. If your bag vanishes for good, file a form that itemizes what was inside it. Most airlines won’t pay for precious items, including cash, artwork, electronics, and jewelry. So don’t pack them in luggage. For covered items, you’ll be paid for the depreciated value, not what it would cost to buy brand-new gear (including the bag itself). Sometimes you’ll even have to produce receipts. On domestic flights, a carrier’s liability maxes out at $3,300 per passenger. Weirdly, liability on most international flights is even less—about $1,700 per passenger.
When all else fails: Instead of looking for receipts for items purchased years ago, bring in printouts of the current value of comparable items for sale as “used” on Amazon. Overall, the moral is: Never pack anything of value in your checked luggage.

…I CRASH MY RENTAL CAR?
After the accident (here or abroad), insist on calling the police (even if it’s a minor fender bender), and make copies of the report. If you declined collision damage waiver insurance coverage, your auto-insurance policy should cover damages. If you declined rental coverage and don’t have auto insurance, the credit card you used to pay for the rental should pay for damage to the vehicle.
Worst case: You didn’t check for loopholes in your policy’s fine print, and now you’re stuck with a huge bill. Coverage provided by your credit card or auto insurer often doesn’t apply to vans and luxury vehicles. Rentals in some countries, such as Ireland and Jamaica, may not be covered either. That’s why you need to call your credit card company and check the fine print before you depart.
When all else fails: Never agree to pay anything to the rental company on the spot. If you’ve looked into all the other options and it looks like you’re on the hook for thousands of dollars, call a lawyer.

…MY TOUR OPERATOR GOES OUT OF BUSINESS?
Hopefully, you paid with a credit card, which you should always do because it offers the most protection. If so, call your card company and explain what happened. Your money can be refunded if you contest the charges within 60 or 90 days of when your statement is mailed to you.
Worst case: You paid with a check and didn’t buy travel insurance that specifically covers the financial default of a tour operator. In which case, you’re not getting your money back.
When all else fails: Contact the United States Tour Operators Association (ustoa.com) to see if the tour operator was a member of their group—and as such, would have been required to keep $1 million in reserves to refund to customers.

…MY PASSPORT IS STOLENAND I’M THE VICTIM OF A CRIME?
For most crimes except minor pickpocketing, call the police. If you’ve been hurt or robbed, or your travel plans must be changed, the police report will help you file claims with health and travel insurers. Cancel any stolen debit and credit cards, too.
Worst case: Your passport was stolen, and without it you won’t be allowed back into the country. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate ASAP. With luck, you normally either travel with a photocopy of your passport, which will help speed up the process of getting a new one, or you’ve e-mailed a scan of your passport to yourself at a Web-based account you can access.
When all else fails: Bust out your emergency stash of traveler’s checks, which you brought along for just such an occasion—and which should hold you over until you get your hands on new cards and a new passport.

…MY CHECKED LUGGAGE IS ROBBED?
You’ll probably never get your stuff back, but you should file reports anyway. Why? They increase the chances that the thieves will eventually be caught. If there’s a slip in your bag stating that the TSA inspected it, file a claim at the TSA website (www.tsa.gov).
Worst case: There’s no slip of paper from the TSA noting that your bag has been inspected. So file a claim for reimbursement for lost and stolen items with the airline directly—and quickly, because claims often must be submitted within as little as 24 hours of an incident. Ironically, airlines won’t pay for the most-likely-to-be-stolen items, such as jewelry and electronics, and they impose caps on their total liability per passenger.
When all else fails: File claims with the airline, the airport(s), and the TSA. To be safer next time, put a TSA-recognized lock on your bag to prevent the half dozen, non-TSA workers who handle it from being able to pry it open.

…I GET SICK WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER PASSENGERS ON A CRUISE?
If your cruise is interrupted or postponed because of an outbreak, you should expect to be given the option to cancel for a full refund or to reschedule at a discount of up to half off.
Worst case: Cruise ships are not required to compensate passengers for illnesses. If you and a small number of passengers get sick on an otherwise uneventful sailing, don’t expect a refund.
When all else fails: Call the cruise line’s customer-service department and request a discount on a future sailing, explaining that your vacation was ruined and that you’d like to give the experience another shot at a discounted rate, or with credit for on board purchases.

…I NEED EMERGENCY MEDICAL HELP AT MY DESTINATION?
Most U.S.-based health-insurance plans offer some coverage overseas, but only for emergencies, such as broken bones or heart attacks—anything that would send a reasonable person to the ER. Chances are you’ll have to pay the hospital or doctor directly and get reimbursed later, so keep all receipts. In some rare cases, health plans work with doctors and clinics overseas, and if your treatment occurs in-network, your insurer may be able to pay the bill directly, saving you the trouble of paying out of pocket.
Worst case: You have no insurance and rely on Medicare or Medicaid. Neither program will protect you outside the U.S. Be sure to buy supplementary travel insurance in advance of your trip. To scout out the policies of multiple established, well-regarded providers, use insuremytrip.com.
When all else fails: Get to a doctor or hospital and worry about payment later. In many parts of the world, medical treatments cost far less than in the U.S. And in countries with socialized health plans, medical bills have a way of disappearing, even for foreigners.

…I’VE BEEN ARRESTED OVERSEAS?
Drugs are involved in roughly one-third of the arrests of Americans abroad, so it goes without saying to just say no. Legal systems vary widely around the globe, however, and to avoid getting in trouble because of an unusual foreign law—in Singapore, for instance, you can be fined for not flushing the toilet—study up on your destination’s peculiar regulations in guidebooks and at travel.state.gov.
Worst case: You’re facing serious jail time, or worse. When speaking to the police, be respectful and apologetic without necessarily admitting wrongdoing.
When all else fails: Tell everyone who will listen that you demand to speak with a U.S. embassy officer, who can help you navigate that country’s legal system, find a local attorney, and send messages to your family.

…I’M CAUGHT IN A NATURAL OR MAN-MADE DISASTER? Serious emergencies can happen anywhere (see: London, Haiti, Chile, Mumbai, New Orleans), so it’s a good idea to e-mail your itinerary, including flight and hotel info, to a friend back home. Register your trip with the State Department for free at travel.state.gov, so that the government will know where you are and will be able to help get you to safety in a crisis.
Worst case: If you’re fortunate enough to have life and limb intact, money shouldn’t be a concern: When true emergencies occur, hotels and airlines are generally very sympathetic to travelers and waive cancellation and change restrictions.
When all else fails: Figure out a way to get yourself to a U.S. embassy or consulate, which can provide safety and coordinate evacuations. Getting home may take time, so be patient, and try to console the travelers around you, who may become your new best friends.

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
By Brad Tuttle, Budget Travel

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Why Is the TSA Questioning Me?

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Packing Tips, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on December 20th, 2010 by – Be the first to comment

Did you know that something as simple as a headband can trigger airport alarms? Here, seven ways you may unknowingly set off security measures—and what to do about it.

Ever wonder why the TSA singled you out to rifle through your bag? Or what exactly made the metal detector beep? By now, we all know to ditch our liquids before reaching security. But did you know that something as harmless as a headband can prompt a time-consuming cross-examination?

On an average day, transportation security officers scan more than 2 million travelers—and all of their luggage—and that number will only continue to increase. We spoke to TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches for the lowdown on seven items that can put officers on alert in spite of the fact that, for the most part, they’re perfectly acceptable for air travel.

THE OFFENDER: ALUMINUM FOIL WRAPPERS

Why they catch attention: Nothing escapes the metal-detecting prowess of airport security systems—not even something as minuscule as a foil wrapper. Many manufacturers of chewing gum, candy, and cigarettes have caught on and made the transition from metallic wrap to paper, but the hold-outs can put a kink in your smooth passage through airport checkpoints. What to do: Empty your pockets of any and all offending foil before passing through a metal detector.

THE OFFENDER: HEADBANDS

Why they catch attention: Even though headbands (like bulky clothing and hats) are not prohibited, sporting them may lead to additional screening. The reason is simple: Metal constitutes the frame of many headbands and, consequently, triggers the detector. What to do: Avoid being pulled aside by sending your hair accessory through security ahead of you on the X-ray belt.

THE OFFENDER: SMALL ALCOHOL BOTTLES

Why they catch attention: The TSA is naturally more focused on detecting potential explosives than in analyzing the contents of your personal minibar, but when it comes to liquors, the rules are based on size and packaging: Respectively, alcohol must be less than 3.4 ounces, bottled in original container, and contained in a one-quart sized, zip-top bag. What to do: As long as you follow the 3-1-1 requirements for liquids, you should be ok.

THE OFFENDER: SNOW GLOBES

Why they catch attention: Don’t expect to get onto a plane with a snow globe. Believe it or not, the liquid contents of most crystal balls surpass the 3.4-ounce limit and, consequently, aren’t allowed in carry-ons. In fact, back in October an abandoned package containing a snow globe appeared so suspicious that it caused the evacuation of Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. What to do: There’s no way around it—snow globes need to be checked.

THE OFFENDER: INHALERS

Why they catch attention: As an aerosol product, some inhalers are a cause for concern because at first glance they may seem to violate the “3-1-1″ rule for liquids, gels, and aerosols (limit of 3.4 ounces, packed in one quart-size, see-through, zip-top bag). Of course, given that these objects are a medical must for some travelers, they are exempt from restriction. What to do: To avoid unwanted questioning, Gaches advises travelers to inform officers in advance if they’re carrying an inhaler. It helps speed things up if your medications are properly labeled.

THE OFFENDER: UNDER-WIRE BRAS

Why they catch attention: The TSA swears this shouldn’t be an issue, but we’ve heard plenty of tales from women (and at least one cross-dresser) who insist that the metal in an under-wire bra has triggered a secondary “wanding” after passing through the metal detector. In some cases, a rogue under-wire has even led to a closer inspection by a female agent in a private room. What to do: The answer, then, may be to pack the metallic lingerie in your checked bags and sport a more comfortable model while in flight.

THE OFFENDER: JARS OF PEANUT BUTTER

Why they catch attention: Everything on earth can be categorized as a liquid, gas, or solid—except maybe lava and peanut butter. It’s doubtful you’ll be packing lava in your purse, but what about peanut butter? It’s certainly not a liquid—you could hold it upside down for a decade and it would never drop. But anything that can “conform to the shape of its container,” such as cold cream, toothpaste, or, yes, peanut butter, can upset the swift flow of the security line. What to do: Plan ahead and pack “conformable” liquids in the bags you’ll be checking. Peanut butter sandwiches, on the other hand, are perfectly fine.

Unsure about an item that’s not on our list? Check out the TSA’s online “Can I Bring?” application to see what is (and is not) acceptable.

By Gary McKechnie, Budget Travel

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