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TSA Security Procedures and Tips
For Airline Passengers

Here you'll find the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) security procedures that are in place to help travelers be prepared for security before they leave home. You'll also find tips and a check list to ensure a smooth travel experience.

The 3-1-1 Policy
For Liquids, Gels, and Aerosols

Liquid explosives still pose a threat and for that reason TSA limits the amount of liquids passengers can safely carry through the security checkpoint. This limitation applies only to carry-on bags. Larger quantities of liquids, gels, and aerosols can be safely packed in checked baggage.

Here are the rules:

  • 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less for all liquids,
    gels and aerosols; placed in a

    • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag
      to hold all small bottles;
    • 1 bag per passenger placed in a screening bin

Larger quantities of breast milk/baby formula and medically necessary liquids are permitted but must be presented to an officer for further inspection.

Traveling With Kids or Your Parents?
Use Family Lanes

Families or individuals traveling with medically necessary liquids this holiday season can use TSA's Family Lanes to have a more pleasant travel experience. There are Family Lanes at every security checkpoint allowing families and travelers with special needs to go through security at their own pace. Individuals carrying medically necessary liquids, gels and aerosols in excess of three ounces will also be directed to these popular lanes. Individuals traveling with liquids, gels and aerosols within 3-1-1 limits will not experience any change to their screening procedures. These lanes are marked by signage at each security checkpoint.

Traveling with Food

Everyone has favorite foods from home that they want to bring to holiday dinners, or items from their destination that they want to bring back home. Travelers should know that while pies are permitted through the security checkpoint, here is a list of liquids, gels and aerosol items that you should put in your checked bag, ship ahead, or leave at home.

  • Cranberry sauce
  • Creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings)
  • Gravy
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Maple syrup
  • Oils and vinegars
  • Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Wine, liquor and beer

Items that are purchased after the security checkpoint have been pre-screened and can be taken on the plane.

Traveling with Gifts and Snow Globes

Remember not to wrap gifts before you travel. Our security officers may have to un-wrap a gift if they need to take a closer look inside. This applies to both carry-ons at the security checkpoint and to checked baggage. Please ship wrapped gifts ahead of time or wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap them. Additionally, TSA does not permit snow globes through the security checkpoint because they contain an undetermined amount of liquid. Snow globes are permitted in checked baggage.

TSA Travel Checklist

  • Click here to download TSA's Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers Checklist (pdf, 318Kb)

Before Packing

  • Quart sized zip top bag (Hint: 1 bag per passenger is permitted)

  • 3 ounces or less sized containers of liquids,
    gels and aerosols (3-1-1)

  • Visit TSA.gov to review the prohibited items
    list for both carry-on and checked baggage

  • If purchasing a luggage lock, be sure to look for
    those that are recognized by TSA

  • It can be helpful to tape a card with your name and contact information on any large electronics

When Packing

  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)

  • Pack large electronics on top layer of carry-on
    for easy accessibility

  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in front pocket of your carry-on for easy accessibility

Before Leaving for Airport

  • Give yourself enough time to arrive at airport early
  • Wear easily removable shoes
  • Make sure to have accepted government issued identification and boarding pass if printed at home

Before Entering Checkpoint

  • Look for Family/Medical Liquids Lanes if special assistance is needed for families

  • Be sure to place all items from pockets and any bulky metal jewelry in carry-on bag or purse

  • Have ID and boarding pass out for inspection

After Entering Checkpoint

  • Remove 3-1-1 bag and place in bin

  • Remove shoes and place directly on belt for quick screening

  • Remove coats and jackets and place in bin

  • Remove computers and large electronics from carry on and place in bin alone (video game consoles, remote control toys, etc.)

  • Ensure no items remain in your pockets before proceeding to the walk-through metal detector or imaging technology (keys, cell phones, comb, eyeglasses, etc.)

  • Remember to check bins and collect all belongings following screening

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