Six Airport Security Tips for Summer Travelers

Summer vacation travel will be hectic enough without worrying about the TSA security lines. Why not make those lines move a little faster? You can by checking out the following do’s and don’ts – which cover everything from sports to souvenirs and even destination weddings.

Six TSA Security Tips for Summer Travel

1. Souvenirs

Memories of great summer vacations may get thrown in the trash when presented at the TSA security checkpoint if the souvenirs do not meet TSA specifications because they contain more than 3.4 ounces of liquid. This includes items such as snow globes and bottles of local wines and beer. However, these items can be transported in checked luggage.

Bonus tip: Pack bags carefully to avoid breakage. Place liquid-filled containers in Ziploc-type bags.

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2. Lotions, gels and aerosols

Remember, all liquids, lotions, gels (including shoe inserts and more personal items) and even foodstuff like jellies and peanut butter must adhere to the 3.4 ounce liquid rule and this is also true for tanning lotions and sun block. If you’re traveling light with just a carry-on bag, it might make more sense to buy some of these items at your destination.

Bonus tip: Stick deodorants are not limited to the 3.4 ounce rule (but sprays and gels are).

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3. Kids at Security

If your child is aged 12 or under, he or she will not have to remove shoes at security, and will be given multiple tries to pass through body scans should anomalies appear. If your child looks older than his years, have something with a birth date on it at-hand. The TSA is also now testing similar streamlined-security measures for travelers aged 75 and older.

Bonus tip: The TSA notes some kids may still have to remove their shoes (and even undergo a pat-down) because of the agency’s “random and unpredictable security measures.” In other words,  no one is guaranteed expedited screening. Make sure your child is aware of this possibility.

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4. Destination weddings

Wedding dresses in garment bags can go through security checkpoints, and if officers have to open the bag to inspect the dress, they will do so with gloves on.

Bonus tip: Check with the airline ahead of time to be sure there’s a place to hang the dress onboard. Also, many if not most airlines will count a dress as a carry-on item because of the space it takes up.

5. Sports gear

Take along all the sports gear you want, but most of it can’t go through security checkpoints including the following:

  • Baseball bats
  • Cricket bats
  • Golf clubs
  • Hunting knives
  • Pool cues
  • Ski poles
  • Bows and arrows
  • Dumbbells/hand weights
  • Hockey sticks
  • Martial arts devices
  • Scuba knives
  • Spear guns

Bonus tip: Some airlines will carry a certain amount of sports gear for free but others will not. Another consideration is the weight of the gear: if items that fit in a standard suitcase are too heavy – the typical bag weight limit is 50 pounds – you could pay twice the price of the checked-bag fee in overweight charges.

6. Lost, forgotten or stolen ID

Did you forget your ID in the rush to leave for the airport, or was it lost or even stolen during vacation? According to the TSA’s website, you will still be allowed to go through security and board your plane “as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions.”

Bonus tip: Get to the airport at least an hour earlier than normal – there’s really no way of telling how long the Q&A session with the security officer will take.


Published: April 12, 2012