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Airline Travel: TSA Rules To Remember

If you’re skipping the annual trek across the country in a rental car and opting for a flight instead, you should know that since 9/11, many of the rules that govern air travel have changed. And although we’ve all been jumping through a variety of security hoops for the last seven years, it never hurts to be reminded of the little rules that we all must follow when we choose to travel by air.

3-1-1 Rule

This concept covers every type of liquids and gels you may be traveling with in your carry-on – including beauty products, saline solution, snacks, etc. In short, the rule goes as follows:

One traveler is allowed one quart-sized, clear, plastic zip-top bag. In this bag you are allowed to carry as many 3-oz. containers filled with liquid as will fit, with the zip-top bag still able to close. That said, you may not carry a 4-oz. toothpaste container with 1-oz. of product removed – nor are you permitted to carry liquids in containers that you fill yourself.

Traveling with Gifts

Simply put, wrapping your gifts before you arrive at your destination is a bad idea. That’s because, to help ensure the safety of all travelers, the guards posted at airport security checkpoints are well within their rights to unwrap any gifts they deem necessary to inspect further. So if you’re traveling with something special for aunt Mildred, either pop it into a gift bag after you’ve passed through security, ship it ahead or pack it (again, unwrapped) in your checked bag.

A note of caution: The 3-1-1 Rule even applies to gifts, so don’t bring back a 6-oz. bottle of French perfume in your carry-on. Instead, pack it safely and ship it to your destination.

Prohibited Items

Beyond the 3-1-1 Rule and skipping the gift wrap, there is a host of other items you should never pack in your carry-on, but may be tucked safely inside your checked baggage. The items prohibited in your carry-on bag include, but are not limited to:

  • Box cutters 
  • Ice axes/picks 
  • Knives (except plastic knives or round-bladed butter knives) 
  • Baseball bats 
  • Golf clubs 
  • Ski poles 
  • Ammunition 
  • BB guns 
  • Firearms and realistic replicas of firearms 
  • Mace/pepper spray 
  • Gel-type candles 
  • Gel shoe inserts 
  • Snow globes and like decorations regardless of size

For a complete list of prohibited items and for all the latest updates to airline travel rules, visit the TSA website.

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