TSA Says Security, Safety and Peace of Mind: Things You Should Know Before You Travel

February 15, 2011
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Families urged to prepare for screening and pack wisely in advance of school vacation week travel

As many families around the nation head to the airport for February school vacation week , the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is urging travelers to pack wisely and to remember “3-1-1” when taking liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on baggage.

“School vacation week is a great opportunity for students and families to get away and get out of the cold,” said George Naccara, TSA Federal Security Director at Logan International Airport.  “We are prepared to handle the crowds, but we ask the traveling public to follow a few simple steps to assist us in getting them through the checkpoints as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Naccara added, “Being prepared to go through airport security is a process that should begin when you start to pack.  Those preparations are particularly important during school vacations when families often travel together with children or college kids are traveling home or to a vacation spot for Spring Break.”

Naccara recommends that travelers check out TSA’s travel tips online at www.tsa.gov.

Highlights include

Remember 3-1-1 for Liquids and Gels: You are allowed to carry through the security checkpoint small amounts of liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of 3 ounces or less that fit comfortably in 1 quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag.  Each passenger may only bring 1 plastic zip-top bag per person. You must remove the bag from your carry-on and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening.  You may bring on board the aircraft larger-size liquid and gel items, including beverages, provided they are purchased beyond the checkpoint in the secure boarding area.

Advanced Imaging Technology: If you are directed to an Advanced Imaging Technology machine at the security checkpoint, you have the right to opt for the walk-through metal detector and a pat-down instead. Pat-downs allow security officers to resolve alarms at the walk through metal detector and at the Advanced Imaging machines. To reduce the need for a pat-down, take everything out of your pockets before screening and put these items in your carry-on bag. Don’t wear clothes with a high metal content and put heavy jewelry on after you go through security. If you are directed for a pat-down, the officer will fully inform you of the process before and during the pat-down and ask you if you have any concerns. Please advise the officer if you have medical devices or if you’ve had recent surgery or an injury that might be painful to touch. At any time during the process, you can ask to have the pat-down conducted in private. You may also have someone accompany you. If children 12 and under alarm at the walk through metal detector, they will receive a modified pat-down.

In any case where a pat-down is required, you have the option to request a private room and you have the option to have that pat-down witnessed by a person of your choice.

Pack Wisely: Bringing prohibited items to the airport will cause delays in the screening process for you and other passengers.  If you are not sure which items are prohibited, check TSA’s website for a complete list. Packing tips include:

• Laptops: Laptops must be removed from cases and placed in a bin for screening.

• Photography Equipment:  In addition to one carry-on and one personal item, you may have a photography bag if it contains only photographic equipment.  Film should be packed in your carry-on bag.  Film faster than 800-speed can be handed to a security officer for physical inspection to avoid being X-rayed.

• Scissors and Small Tools:  Scissors with a cutting edge of 4 inches or less and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than 7 inches are allowed on board.  Larger scissors and tools such as crowbars, drills and drill bits, hammers and saws are prohibited from carry-on bags.

• Lock…or Not to Lock:  Security officers may have to open your bag during the screening process.  If your bag is locked and TSA cannot open it through other means, the lock may have to be broken.  TSA is not liable for damage caused to locked bags that must be opened for security purposes.

TSA suggests that you help prevent the need to break a lock by using a TSA-recognized lock.  These locks can be opened by TSA and can be purchased at multiple retail outlets.  A list of recognized locks can be found at www.tsa.gov.

Arrive On Time: Arrival time recommendations vary by airline and day of travel so check with your air carrier.  Passengers are asked to provide valid government-issued photo ID with their boarding pass at the security checkpoint.  Remember to give yourself adequate time to check your baggage and move through security.

Dress the Part and be Prepared to Remove Your Shoes: All shoes must be removed and placed in a plastic bin for screening before you enter the walk-through metal detector or Advanced Imaging machine. To speed the screening process, TSA strongly encourages wearing shoes that are easy to remove.  Metal in your clothing may set off the walk-through metal detector.   Pack coins, keys, jewelry, belt coats and bulky sweaters in carry-on baggage.  Remember to remove all outer garments, including sport coats and warm-up jackets, before screening.

Discuss in Advance: When traveling with children, you may want to talk to them about going through airport security.  Young children will need to temporarily part with such things as stuffed animals and blankets at the checkpoint, and older children and college kids need to know that TSA screeners take seriously any comment that suggests a threat to an aircraft or its passengers. Belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes and threats will not be tolerated.

Such incidents will result buckles and other metal items in your carry-on bag.  Passengers will also need to remove blazers, suit in delays and possibly missing your flight.  Local law enforcement may be called as necessary.