Travel2020: Can you take it on a plane? Surprising things TSA will allow
Monday, November 12, 2018
Snakes on a plane? Probably not on your plane but you might be surprised about what is traveling with you as you surmise the surfeit of sleeping passengers, kids focused on video games, couples looking out the window and others loading up to watch a downloaded film or two.
Lobsters, lizards, soups, spices, maybe a car engine, camp stove, coffeemaker or waffle iron … there are a lot of things that can travel on a plane these days, according to TSA.
At an airport conference in Los Angeles a few years back, an airport commissioner spoke authoritatively, if not a little haltingly, about the one item that gets confiscated most by TSA officers at LAX security points: fur-lined handcuffs. It seems the airport storage closets are full of these items, perhaps given out by the boxload at charity functions throughout the year.
And for all the things that cannot make it through the sensitive scanning machines at security, a lot of items that seem truly doubtful are perfectly OK take on a plane.
Consider the 20-pound turkey or 15-pound ham you cooked for the holiday dinner. They pass the test. Just make sure the mud on that extra pair of sneakers you are also carrying on does not mix with the food to become added to the seasoning. And all that Pepperidge Farm stuffing? That can fly, too.
Got pies? Stack them up in the overhead compartment, along with cakes, cookies, fresh whole fruits and mini (3.4 ounces or smaller) bottles of booze. If you want to sip that booze, however, you will have to wait until you get off the plane. There is too much money in onboard alcohol sales for the airlines at stake.
If you want to keep your food items cold, ice packs are fine — as long as they are frozen. As soon as they start to melt, they become liquid and will not fly. And should that melting happen while you are airborne? Well, then that is your problem — and your seatmates. That means those who would rather boil than bake can bring onboard those live lobsters and crabs, and hopefully keep them cold and alive and pinching throughout the flight.
What about the rest of the meal? If you are coming with a full basket you may have to take a large suitcase along and check it. Mashed potatoes? Gravy? Dressings, jellies and sauces?
All these are a probable "no" for carry-on items, although TSA claims the security officer at the scene has the last say. Still, you can check the dinner, from alcohol to soups, in a suitcase without concern for measures.
If you want to kill the meal first and then bring it on the plane, you will be happy to know that antlers can go. They may require special preparation and a small fee first, depending on the airline’s policy, but horns can definitely fly with the passenger.
Come Bearing Gifts
Meanwhile, chances are, there will be more gift packages flying this season than turkeys or game, and to this TSA says, well … OK. However, wrapped gifts are not encouraged. While most security officers will do their best to leave these items alone and let the scanners do the snooping, the agency leaves open the possibility that gifts will have to be unwrapped and inspected at the discretion of the on-site officers.
That could apply to carefully chosen and wrapped snow globes, so best to keep those sparkling glass tokens unconcealed and in your TSA quart-sized liquids baggy, assuming the snow globe in question is holding less than 3.4 oz of liquid.
If you are also hauling the tree under which all those gifts will sit, that is a possible go as well, although it will have to be wrapped in burlap first and checked into the hold.
If you are playing Santa this season, no doubt your sack of loot can be checked as can your sleigh, kayak, and properly packed bicycle. If you are a Santa that smokes, you can take one lighter onboard and your e-cigarette vaping pen (although policies are in flux when it comes to items using lithium batteries).
If you are sticking to your Santa story, arrive with real ID from the North Pole, perhaps a reindeer driving license or international passport. Santas in a hurry will be happy to know that parachutes can be stored onboard. And if you are a Santa that sweats a lot, you can bring on stick deodorant of any size, but ditch the gel or liquid stuff.
Other items that can be carried on a flight include human remains. These must be cremated remains, of course, but the deceased can fly with their loved ones as long as they are packed in a container. That container should be plastic, as metal urns might not make it through security.
Also, although TSA will allow cremated remains to fly, each airline may have its own policy about this. In any case, an urn, whether metal or any other material, may be checked into the hold.
Skates on a Plane
The active set will be happy to know that ice skates, roller blades and fishing rods usually make it into the overhead compartment without issue.
And knitters need not fidget through the flight (although fidget spinners are an approved item). Knitting needles are good to go, even though in horror movies they make great weapons. It’s the thread cutters that have to stay back in the suitcase.
DIY types can now travel with their tools — as long as those tools are shorter than seven inches in length. Still, these items and anything with blades, points or spikes may have to be surrendered at security so best to check them. You can keep the nail clippers, nutcrackers and corkscrews, however — and those coveted tweezers. Crowbars, cattle prods, axes and hatchets — these are definite "no" on the TSA website, although checking them in is fine.
TSA, in trying to keep with the times, has its own Instagram account and often posts photos of tried and tossed items that try to make it through to the flight. Most recently, a human-sized stuffed bear entered the netherworld of TSA rejection bins, as did a spear gun, a host of hand guns, a statue of the Grim Reaper with scythe, a machete, a silverware set, and hot sauce contained within a fake Flashbang grenade container.
The security agency asks people to reach out to them with a photo and description of the item they wish to carry on through Instagram or Twitter at @AskTSA, and an answer will be forthcoming.
For the less social media savvy, here is a current list from TSA of what can go, what can pack and what needs to stay back.
- Transportation Technology & Automotive
- Civil & Government
- Law Enforcement, Defense & Security
- Recreation & Leisure
- Travel, Hospitality & Event Management
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