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Good Gravy, Let’s Talk Turkey!: TSA Holiday Travel Tips

Posted by Blogger Bob Burns


If you’re getting ready to travel for the holidays and need to brush up on airport security, you’re in the right place! Here is a cornucopia of travel info, tips and linkage that will help you get to where you’re going safely. You’ll be as good as gravy, and in my book, gravy is about as good as it gets. Next to turducken


New Security Improvements for Holiday Travel



  • TSA Pre✓™ Expedited Screening Pilot: This pilot program prescreens individuals traveling on Delta Air Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports and on American Airlines at Miami International and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports - who volunteer information about themselves prior to flying in order to potentially expedite the screening experience. TSA plans to expand this program to Las Vegas McCarran International, Minneapolis St. Paul International and Los Angeles International airports in the coming months.   During this pilot, certain frequent fliers from Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, as well as certain members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS who are also flying on Delta or American are eligible. Currently, this is only open to American citizens.
  • Kids 12 & Under Can Keep Their Shoes On: As part of our move towards a risk-based security approach, we rolled out revised screening procedures for passengers 12 and under. While most will be able to keep their shoes on, there may be instances when shoes may have to come off. Click here to learn more about the revisions.
  • New Privacy Protection Software on All Millimeter Wave Machines: TSA has upgraded all millimeter wave body scanner units nationwide with new software to further enhance privacy protections by eliminating the image of an actual passenger and replacing it with a generic outline of a person. You step into the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machine and the new software will auto-detect potential threats and show their location. The image is on a monitor that is attached to the AIT unit in public view so that passengers can see what the officer sees. Because this eliminates privacy concerns, we no longer have to place an officer in a separate room to view the images.
  • Known Crew Member: TSA has a new program  for crew members to expedite screening for airline pilots through positive identification verification, which is currently being tested at Seattle-Tacoma International, Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Chicago O’Hare International, Miami International and Washington Dulles International airports.
  • Expanded Behavior Detection Pilot: At Boston Logan International and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airports, Behavior Detection Officers have casual conversations with travelers to determine if the traveler should be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint.

Tips, Linkage, and More!



  • Family Lanes: Frequent flyers hate it when they’re in line behind a family, and guess what… families hate it when the frequent flyer is behind them tapping their foot and sighing. That’s why we created Family Lanes. They’re designed to let families take their time and ask questions without feeling rushed by the experienced frequent flyers who can zip through a checkpoint in no time. Also anybody carrying medically necessary liquids, aerosols and gels in excess of 3.4 oz may be directed to a Family Lane. Unfortunately, gravy is not medically necessary.
  • Double Check Your Bag For Guns And Knives: It sounds silly, but so far this year, our officers have found more than 1,000 guns in passenger’s bags. A good percentage of those were loaded. The most common excuse is that the passenger didn’t know it was in the bag.
  • Gifts: Wrapped gifts may need to be unwrapped. If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we have to open it. Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it’s not a guarantee and it also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this.
  • The MyTSA App: Our MyTSA App (available as an iPhone or mobile web app) amongst other great features has a “Can I Bring My…” tool. You can type in the name of the item you’re curious about and it tells you if the item is permitted or not. Wondering if you can take your cranberry sauce on a plane?  Check the app to find out. A wait time feature is also available on our MyTSA application. It relies on crowd sourcing which means the more people who use it, the better. Spread the word, just like butter over a dinner roll.
  • Pat-downs & Body Scanners: A very small percentage of passengers receive pat-downs. To reduce the need for a pat-down, the most important thing you can do is take everything out of your pockets before screening. You can 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. You will also receive a pat-down if you choose to opt out of our Advanced Imaging Technology. (Body Scanners) Check out this post to read some myths and facts about the pat-down.
  • The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1 (Liquids, Gels & Aerosols): Let me start by saying this, it is my dream that gravy will one day come in a container similar to a whipped cream spray can. Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest,  if you’re checking a bag, make it easy on yourself and just put your liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about 3-1-1. I know that suggestion doesn’t work for everybody. Some liquids are essential and some of you do not like to check your luggage. If you’d rather take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading… 3-1-1 is the name for our liquid policy. You can read here for more details, but here is the gist of 3-1-1… Each passenger is allowed to take one clear quart-sized sealable bag and fill it with as many liquids in 3.4 oz or less sized containers that will fit, while still being able to seal the bag. Basically, don’t stuff it to the point where it won’t close. Make sure you take the bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray, or our officers may have to search your bag.
  • Turkey Facts: Turkeys take offense to the phrase “laugh your head off.”
  • Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc. should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine. Powdered mashed potatoes are a crime against humanity, but fine to travel with.
  • Deep Turkey Thoughts: When deceased turkeys are offended, do they roll over in their gravy?
  • Shaving Razors: You can get more info from our blog post on this subject where the pictures will answer all of your questions.
  • Foods: Pies are permitted, but they are subject to additional screening if our officers see any anomalies. (Additional screening of pies does not include our officers tasting the pie, no matter what they tell you…) Cakes, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc. are all permitted. If it’s a live turkey, you might want to have a word with the airline. Here is a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy (mmm gravy), jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer.
  • Turkey Humor: Unlike people who join the Navy, most turkeys are destined to join the gravy.
  • Snow Globes: We are not in cahoots with the Heat Miser, but snow globes are not permitted in your carry-on luggage. They are sealed containers full of liquid that would have to be opened and destroyed to test. We’re not in the business of busting snow globes, so we suggest you place them in your checked baggage or mail them ahead of time.
  • Forgotten or Lost IDs: If you have lost or forgotten your ID, you will still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions.
  • What If The Name On Your ID Doesn’t Match Your Boarding Pass?: Also, folks have had questions about the Secure Flight program and whether the name on your ticket has to match the name on your ID. The Secure Flight watch-list matching process occurs before a passenger even gets to the airport, so if you get a boarding pass, the Secure Flight watch-list matching process is done. In other words, you are clear once you get that pass.
  • ID &Boarding Pass Checking & Secure Flight: As you approach a TSA checkpoint, you will see an officer checking IDs and boarding passes. Please have your acceptable ID and boarding pass out and ready to present to our officer. The several seconds it takes to get your ID and boarding pass out might not seem like much time, but it really adds up when you’ve got people in line behind you.
  • Turkey Trivia: Contrary to popular belief, turkeys prefer to travel on the “Gravy Train,” rather than the “Gravy Boat.”

Follow on Twitter @tsablogteam for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information. Print out this handy dandy checklist (PDF Page 1, 286 KB) so you don’t forget anything and don’t forget to check out TSA.gov for a wealth of information on traveling through TSA checkpoints.

 
Published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C.
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