Trouble Free Flying - TSA Travel Rules and Regulations
“We’re all going on a summer holiday. No more working for a week or two. Fun and laughter on our summer holiday, No more worries for me or you, For a week or two.”
As for most things in life, knowing the rules can make all the difference to the outcome. If you’re traveling by plane, there are some travel rules to remember if you want fun and laughter and not frustration and disappointment.
What electronic equipment can I have in my carry-on bag?
Until just recently, you could have laptops, iPads, Kindles, hand-held electronic games, mobile phones, together with their batteries and even their chargers in the passenger cabin with you.
However, there have been attempts by terrorists to conceal explosive devices into electronic equipment, physical areas of the body, shoes, and clothing and in liquids and cosmetics.
The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has responded by improving their screening techniques at airports locally and abroad and increasing the number of random searches of passengers. In March 2017, the TSA changed the rules for direct flights into the USA. All electronic devices larger than a cell phone or smartphone must now be with checked in baggage.
Some airlines allow you to use electronic equipment throughout the flight. Others want you to power off for take-off and landing. The airline you are using may have WiFi on board and you can send messages and emails while you are flying.
What are the TSA Rules about Packing?
Some tips for packing smartly for flying include:
You don’t need every garment in your cupboard. Choose a neutral color scheme and a few bright accessories – see our articles about travel-friendly fabrics to help you choose.
Have the right sized bag.
The airlines are getting sticky about the bags you can check in and the size of your carry-on bag. Remember that it must fit under your seat or in the overhead bin – and into the box at the check-in counter. The maximum size is 27” x 12” x 6”. This includes wheels or handles that may protrude beyond the edge of the bag itself.
Pack from the outside towards the center, biggest items first, and layering as you go. Socks and small items can be packed into shoes or gaps. If you overstuff your bag it’ll be too big to fit into the airport box!
Pack Liquid items carefully
Decant your personal care items into 30 oz containers and put them all into one x 1-quart size plastic zip bag. No cheating or you’ll be breaking the 3-1-1 rule and will have your belongings confiscated at the security checkpoint.
Pack under limit
Find out what the rules are for maximum weight for checking in your bags. Airlines have differing requirements, and you are allowed more if you are traveling business or first class. Some airlines are now making you pay for every bag checked in and for using the overhead storage bins for carry-on bags. Check before you leave - you don’t want surprises and the embarrassment of unpacking your bags at the airport.
Do not pack prohibited items
It doesn’t help to fight with the TSA or airline staff – they are just doing their job and have heard your excuse before! If you have made some mistakes and packed prohibited items, give them up and resolve not to do that again.
Use Luggage Locks
Use TSA approved locks on your check-in bags. This allows security staff to unlock your bag to check it, using universal keys instead of cutting the lock off. If your bag has been searched, a note will be attached to the bag to tell you so.
How do I check in online and check for flight delays?
Most airlines will allow you to check-in online from 24 hrs to about 2 hours before the flight. This means that you can select your seats and print out your boarding pass. You can use the shorter queue at the airport to check in your bags, or go right through to have a cup of coffee if you’re traveling light with just carry-on baggage.
What security checks must I go through at the airport?
The TSA has rules to keep passengers and airports safe. This includes going through an X-ray metal detector or through enhanced imaging equipment which picks up any items concealed on your body or in your clothing. It’s standard to remove items such as shoes, belts, and jackets.
It’s a good idea to also empty your pockets and to remove any metal objects, including your watch, keys, money clips, and jewelry. Electronic equipment, walking sticks, umbrellas or any other item you are carrying is scanned separately. If there is a question, you may have a pat down check.
Some passengers have complained that the new pat-down procedure is invasive. However, it is usually only done if the passenger has refused to have an X-ray or advanced imaging screening or if these methods have picked up something suspicious. Rather be co-operative and think about what you are wearing or carrying with you, and you are likely to avoid pat downs.
Be ready for the security checks. Have an identification document ready (see the list of acceptable documents), together with your boarding pass – and make sure the names on both documents are the same. Be ready to take electronic equipment out to be scanned. Take out your plastic bag with liquids according to the TSA 3-1-1 rule. Even better, check everything through rather than having so much to carry on.
If you’ve done some planning and know what to expect, there’s no reason why your holiday shouldn’t be filled with fun and laughter and with no more worries – exactly as promised by Cliff Richard all those years ago.