The holiday season recently ended, and with it came the anticipated surge in travelers. While the summer of 2023 witnessed a 19% reduction in canceled flights compared to the previous year, airports still bustle with passengers eager to enjoy a well-deserved break.
American Airlines projected an impressive 3.5 million passengers on over 32,000 flights during this period, while United Airlines anticipated its busiest Labor Day weekend ever, expecting to accommodate 2.8 million travelers.
However, amid the travel frenzy, some passengers continue to attempt to bring prohibited items onto planes, creating challenges for the vigilant Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers.
One incident that drew attention occurred on August 30 at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., where a woman attempted to board a flight with a loaded handgun. TSA officers swiftly intervened, emphasizing the importance of adhering to aviation security regulations during busy travel seasons.
Scott T. Johnson, TSA's Federal Security Director for the airport, emphasized, "When someone shows up with a firearm at the checkpoint, the conveyor belt is stopped until the police arrive and can remove the carry-on bag from the X-ray machine to secure the weapon safely." He added that carrying guns in carry-on luggage has been prohibited for decades, a rule long predating the TSA's existence.
TSA reiterated its rules regarding the transportation of firearms in a recent X post (formerly Twitter). According to Lisa Farbstein, a TSA spokesperson, flying with a gun necessitates it being unloaded and locked inside a hard-sided case. This case must then be taken to the airline check-in counter, as airlines transport guns in the plane's cargo hold to ensure they are inaccessible during the flight.
Liquid and Spreadable Foods
Another prohibited item category comprises liquid or spreadable foods, such as apple sauce, jams, jellies, preserves, canned vegetables, Nutella, and peanut butter.
These items must adhere to the 3-1-1 liquid rule, including frozen and steamed items, which also fall under this category. Common examples of prohibited liquids include beverages, hair gel, aftershave, cologne, perfume, shampoo, conditioner, Vaseline, toothpaste, and sunblock.
Full-Size Hygiene Products
Aside from firearms, several other items remain on the TSA's watchlist. Full-size hygiene products, for instance, continue to cause issues. Seventeen years ago, TSA restricted the amount of liquids, gels, and aerosols (LGAs) permitted in carry-on luggage to 100 ml. Yet, travelers persist in bringing full-size LGAs to security checkpoints, leading to their disposal. The TSA encourages passengers to be more mindful of these regulations.
Passengers may not know they can bring alcohol onboard, but this comes with limitations. Alcoholic beverages with alcohol content exceeding 24% but not surpassing 70% can be transported in checked bags, capped at 5 liters (1.3 gallons) per passenger, provided they remain unopened in their original retail packaging.
In carry-on luggage, miniature alcohol bottles are allowed as long as they fit comfortably within a single quart-size bag. Nevertheless, federal law prohibits passengers from consuming alcohol on board; flight attendants must serve it. In 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration fined several passengers over $1 million for disregarding this rule.
Fertilizer - A Hazardous Material
Lastly, passengers should know that fertilizer is strictly prohibited on airplanes in checked and carry-on luggage. Classified as a hazardous material due to its flammability and explosion risks, it poses a significant threat to aviation safety.
As Labor Day weekends and other peak travel periods approach, travelers are reminded to familiarize themselves with the TSA's regulations to ensure smooth and secure journeys. By understanding and respecting these guidelines, passengers can contribute to a safer and more efficient aviation experience.