The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers the following travel packing tips and airport security information for airline travelers:
Carry-on baggage is a small piece of luggage you take on the airplane with you. You are allowed one carry-on in addition to one personal item such as a laptop computer, purse, small backpack, briefcase, or camera case.
Airport security personnel will screen any “carry-on” baggage that will fit through the X-ray machine, but it is up to each airline to determine whether the baggage fits the size restrictions for your flight. As part of your travel packing preparation, check with your airline to make sure your carry-on bag meets the airline’s size requirements—before you proceed through the airport security checkpoints.
The TSA has strict regulations about carrying liquids, gels and aerosols:
All products must be in individual containers that are three-ounces or smaller. Larger containers that are half-full or toothpaste tubes rolled up are not allowed.
All liquids, gels and aerosols must be placed in one quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag
. Larger plastic bags or bags that are not zip-top (such as fold-over sandwich bags) are not allowed. Each traveler is allowed to carry only one, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
If you have favorite products that will not fit in 3 ounce containers, pack them in your checked baggage.
You must remove your quart-sized plastic, zip-top bag from your carry-on luggage and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. The TSA says that X-raying separately will allow security officers to examine the declared items more easily.
The TSA allows only the following exceptions to the 3 ounce containters/1 quart zip-top plastic rule, but you still have to present these items for screening at the security gate:
All prescription and over-the-counter medications (liquids, gels, and aerosols) including KY jelly, eye drops, and saline solution for medical purposes. [For more information, see How to Take Medication through Airport Security].
Liquids including water, juice, or liquid nutrition or gels for passengers with a disability or medical condition
Life-support and life-sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs
Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons such as mastectomy products, prosthetic breasts, bras or shells containing gels, saline solution, or other liquids
Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions
Baby formula, breast milk, and juice if a baby or small child is traveling
Label your laptop computer. Tape a business card or other identifying information on the bottom of your laptop to avoid loss or accidental “exchange” by travelers.
Checked baggage is luggage you check in at the ticket counter or at curbside. It will not be accessible during your flight. TSA advises travelers not to lock checked baggage, but if you must lock it be sure to use a TSA “Accepted and Recognized” lock. If your baggage sets off an alarm and TSA cannot gain access to your checked bag, an unrecognized lock may be broken.
These travel packing tips for checked baggage will help to simplify your trip and ensure that your checked bags get on the flight with you:
Don’t put film in your checked baggage, as the screening equipment will damage it.
Pack shoes, boots, sneakers, and other footwear on top of other contents in your luggage. This will make it easier for security to check your footwear.
Avoid over-packing your travel luggage; the airport security screener should be able to easily reseal your bag if it is opened for inspection. If possible, spread the contents over several bags. Check with your airline or travel agent for maximum weight limitations.
Avoid packing food and drink items in checked baggage.
Don’t stack piles of books or documents on top of each other; spread them out within your baggage.
The following general travel packing tips apply to both carry-on and checked baggage, and will help you to move through the airport security screening process more quickly:
Do NOT pack or bring prohibited items to the airport. View the list
Put all undeveloped film, and cameras with film, in your carry-on baggage. If your bag will pass through the X-ray machine more than 5 times ask for a hand inspection to prevent damage.
Check ahead of time with your airline or travel agent to determine the airline’s travel baggage policy, including number of pieces you can bring and size and weight limitations.
Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item (1+1).
Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1.
Don’t forget to place identification tags with your name, address and phone number on all of your baggage, including your laptop computer. It is a good idea to place an identification tag inside your baggage as well.
Avoid overpacking so that your articles don’t spill out if your bag is opened for inspection.
When doing your travel packing, think carefully about the personal items you place in your carry-on baggage. The screeners may have to open your bag and examine its contents.
Consider packing personal belongings in clear plastic bags to reduce the chance that a TSA screener will have to handle them.
Wait to wrap your gifts. Be aware that wrapped gifts may need to be opened for inspection. This applies to both carry-on and checked baggage.
New Airport Security Procedures
TSA has changed security screening procedures at all U.S. airports, banning liquids and gels at security checkpoints and aboard flights. This means that you will not be permitted to bring any liquids or gels past the screening checkpoint or on board, with a few exceptions. We will allow small doses of liquid medications through the security checkpoint and onboard airplanes, a slight adjustment from the original ban, which was implemented on August 10.
We also now require all passengers to remove their shoes so they may be x-rayed with their carry-on bags.
While we can not provide a comprehensive list of liquids that will and will not be permitted on board, the primary exceptions to this rule are:
- Baby formula or breast milk when traveling with an infant
- Prescription medication, provided the prescription matches the passenger’s name
- Certain essential non-prescription medication, such as insulin
- Additional items are listed here
Laptop computers, cellular phones, iPods, and other portable electronic devices are still allowed on board an aircraft. These items must still be screened at the security checkpoint.
While baby formula, breast milk, and certain medications will be permitted past the screening checkpoint and on board, please be aware that these items will be subject to physical inspection. You will not be required to taste these liquids in the presence of a security officer.
We suggest, to the fullest extent possible, that you pack all liquids and gels – including shampoo, toothpaste, perfume, hair gel, suntan lotion and all other items with similar consistency in your checked baggage to minimize any delays at the screening checkpoint.
Some solid or powdered cosmetics items are permitted past the checkpoint; however, this is left to the discretion of the Security Officer. To minimize delays and hassle, we recommend that you pack all cosmetics in your checked baggage.
Beverages purchased in the boarding area (beyond the screening checkpoint) will not be allowed on board, and must be consumed before boarding.
In the event a Security Officer identifies a prohibited item in your baggage, you will be required to either check that item with your checked baggage, or dispose of it at the checkpoint.
These polices apply to ALL domestic and international flights originating in the United States, including flights to the United Kingdom. For flights to the United Kingdom, TSA security officers will perform an additional physical inspection of all carry on baggage at the departure gate. For all other flights random gate inspections will be conducted.
Please note that for flights originating in the United Kingdom, local policies regarding carry on baggage will apply. These policies tend to be more stringent than United States policy. You may wish to check with you air carrier for additional details on United Kingdom requirements.
Helpful Tips For When Arriving At The Airport
Due to increased security measures, we recommend that domestic passengers arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to their flight. International passengers are encouraged to allow additional time and to check with the air carrier.
To expedite the screening process, please pack all liquids and gels – including shampoo, toothpaste, perfume, hair gel, suntan lotion and all other items with similar consistency in your checked baggage. Carrying liquids of any sort to the screening checkpoint will cause you delays, and will most likely result in the item being confiscated.
Every passenger can assist in ensuring that flights are safe and hassles minimized:
- Pack lightly, without clutter, to facilitate easy screening
- Ensure that all liquids are packed in your checked baggage
- Do not bring liquids or lighters to the security checkpoint
- Review the Permitted and Prohibited Items List prior to traveling to expedite passing through the screening checkpoint
- Cooperate with TSA personnel at checkpoints and with airline personnel at gates
- Be attentive and vigilant to any suspicious activity and report it to authorities
Passengers traveling to the United Kingdom will be subject to more extensive security screening processes, including a physical inspection of baggage at the departure gate.
As a customer service initiative, we are providing security checkpoint wait time information to assist travelers in planning for their next flight. The wait times are historical so please note actual wait time may vary depending on factors including weather delays, which result in increased passenger levels.
When calculating arrival time, remember to build in time for non-security related issues, including parking, and ticketing/checking in with your airline. Please consult your airline and airport for additional guidance on arrival time. Find your security checkpoint wait time.
Your assistance in helping us respond to this aviation security threat quickly and effectively is appreciated.
Can i take it?
Due to enhanced security measures liquids, gels, lotions and other items of similar consistency will not be permitted in carry-on baggage. These types of items must be packed in your checked baggage.
Additionally, liquids, gels and lotions purchased beyond the checkpoint but must be disposed of before boarding the aircraft.
To ensure the health and welfare of certain air travelers the following items are permitted.
Small amounts of Baby formula and breast milk if a baby or small child is traveling
Liquid prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket
Up to 5 oz. (148ml) of liquid or gel low blood sugar treatment
Up to 4 oz. of essential non-prescription liquid medications including saline solution, eye care products and KY jelly
Gel-filled bras and similar prostethics
Gel-filled wheelchair cushions
Life support and life sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs carried for medical reasons
You are permitted to bring solid cosmetics and personal hygiene items as such lipstick, lip balm and similar solids. Please remember these items must be solid and not liquid, gel or aerosol.
Please keep in mind, that while we can not provide an exhaustive list of items covering all eventualities, all liquids, gels, or aerosols of any kind are prohibited at security checkpoints, in airport sterile areas, and aboard aircraft. You can pack these items in your checked baggage.
We ask for your cooperation in the screening process by being prepared before you arrive. We also ask that you follow the guidelines above and try not to over-think these guidelines. Please pack liquids, gels, and aerosols in your checked baggage even if you do not normally check a bag.
In addition to liquids, gels, and aerosols numerous other potentially dangerous items are not permitted in carry-on baggage. We strongly encourage travelers to read more about previously prohibited items to avoid complications during screening.