If you fly regularly, you've probably memorized the everyday rules about what's permitted in carry-on luggage and what isn't. But the holidays present some special challenges. Here's the word from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about some seasonal items, plus tips for less-frequent flyers.
FOOD AND GIFT ITEMS
Procrastinate on wrapping packages: While you're allowed to bring wrapped packages onto the plane with you, security officers will unwrap a gift if it sets off an alarm. TSA recommends wrapping gifts after your flight or shipping them ahead of time.
Sweet security: TSA says you can bring pies and cakes with you through the security checkpoint but they may be subject to additional screening. The agency isn't specific about what that might involve.
Snow falling on ... Those sweet, old-fashioned snow globes may be a winter holiday tradition, but the TSA considers larger ones a security risk. Here's what they say: "Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag, as the passenger’s other liquids, such as shampoo, toothpaste and cosmetics."
The gel factor: The TSA considers some holiday edibles to be "liquid, aerosol or gel" and thus subject to the same rules as shampoo and liquor. They include cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (including cheeses and peanut butter), gift baskets with food items such as jam or salsa, gravy, jams and jellies, maple syrup and sauces.
The TSA says when possible, do not pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in checked baggage. However, these items must be removed from carry-on bags and submitted separately for X-ray screening. Small electronics, such as iPods, can remain in carry-on baggage.
THE 3-1-1 RULE
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure.
3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.
Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk 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. Officers may need to open these items to conduct additional screening.
For more information, visit the TSA welsite.