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Tackle the TSA Line

Tackle the TSA Line

December 28, 2018

No Fly List? Tips to Tackle the TSA Lines and Travel With Ease


Guest Writer: Stephanie Maisonneuve

With all of the heightened security these days, air travel can quickly become a frustrating experience if you’re not prepared. Luckily, there are ways to avoid being delayed at security checkpoints that only require a little preparation and strategic packing for your carry-ons. Here are a few tips to minimize your chances of being caught up by TSA.

For many, one of the most confusing aspects of air travel is knowing what to pack in a carry on. For those who are entirely new to travel, your carry on is any luggage that you are allowed to bring onto the plane with you. Checking your bags before boarding can be very costly. If your trip allows for it, packing in a way that enables you to bring your belongings with you on the plane is the most cost-effective way to travel. However, there are things you can and cannot bring with you on the plane. Being conscious of these things before heading to the airport can save you a lot of time and frustration.


Carry-On Size

Whenever you are traveling, it is important to check with your airline carrier to determine the maximum size dimensions of luggage that you can carry on as well as how many items you can carry on and whether there is a cost.  There are no set limitations by the TSA. However, depending on the carrier, bag sizes and allowable weights can vary greatly.


No fly list

Some of the most common items you absolutely cannot bring with you on board include:

  • weapons and self-defense items
  • alcoholic beverages over 140 proof (I think my liver just whispered, “thank you TSA”)
  • sharp objects (knives, large scissors, axes and razor blades, etc.)
  • realistic replicas of any weapon or explosives
  • medical marijuana

Many of the previously mentioned items are no-brainers, but you’d be surprised what people “accidentally” attempt to carry on board. For my ladies who have their pepper sprays attached to their keys, don’t forget to remove it before flying. Make sure you check to ensure none of these items are in your bag before attempting to board the plane. If you must bring any of these items with you while traveling, and they are allowed, you will have to check the bags with your carrier. If you’re unsure, it’s best to check the official TSA guidelines before heading to the airport.


Allowed items that can cause problems

While many of the following items are allowed, there are specific ways these items must be packaged for you to bring them on board. Common items that cause problems at the TSA line are:

  • Deodorant
  • Medication and prescribed dietary products and supplies
  • Electronics
  • Wrapped gifts
  • Shampoo and other hair products
  • Bottled soap
  • Baby needs


The Workarounds

Many of the above listed items cause problems for passengers mainly due to how they’re packaged. It is important to keep in mind that “travel sized” is key. Here are some effective workarounds for these items that can help you to board your flight without a hitch.



When packing essential items such as deodorant, soap, lotions, and shampoo, TSA guidelines require that all items be in 3.5 oz or smaller containers and then placed in a one-quart zip-top bag. It is also imperative that liquid such as shampoo and mouthwash be placed in leak-proof containers to avoid spills. Finally, put these items on top of your carry-on bag for easier access by airport security. Feeling overwhelmed already? For quicker and stress-free packing items like solid bars, and clearly labeled jars and packets to meet TSA standards and avoid a struggle.


Medication and Medical Supplies

When you arrive at the airport security checkpoint, you will need to present your prescribed medication and supplies to the security agent separately if they are in bottles larger than 100 milliliters or 3.4 ounces. It may be helpful to bring a written list or copies of prescriptions to make the process easier. U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires prescription medications remain in original containers with the prescription labels. Don’t get caught up when getting those passport stamps.

Items that are necessary for dietary purposes due to medical conditions such as “Boost” nutritional supplements, water, juice, and gels can be carried on board. Additionally, items such as bone marrow, mastectomy related items, and life sustaining supplies are allowed to be carried on board as well. Just be prepared for them to be inspected and to answer any questions security may have about them.


Baby needs

Traveling with an infant or small child can already be a frustrating process; however, many items that are needed by babies and small children are allowed to be carried on board. These items are considered special exceptions to the regular liquid policy and include breast milk, formula, and baby food. You do not need to place these items in zip-top bags nor do you need to limit the volume of these substances.


A Few Other Tips

Ultimately, the more you travel, the more you’ll learn about what you can and cannot bring on board, as well as how to pack efficiently to avoid being held up at the security checkpoint. Until then, here are a few more tips to help make the process go smoother.

  1. Pack in layers
  2. Limit the number of shoes you bring
  3. Wear easily removable shoes (gel inserts are permitted)
  4. Leave thick metal belts, jewelry, and accessories at home
  5. Carry laptops in TSA approved cases to avoid it being removed for inspection
  6. Wait to wrap gifts or mail gifts ahead of time (but really gift cards FTW)
  7. Relax and keep in mind it will all be over soon

Happy traveling!

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