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Holiday Travel Tips and Helplines from the TSA

Happy holidays from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)! What did the often-maligned security agency get travelers this season? The gift of holiday travel tips. The TSA has posted a new blog entry to alert travelers to recent changes in rules, a helpful app, contact information for the agency, and other useful information for this busy travel time. Read on to learn what new rules you'll need to follow at the airport this holiday season, how to speed through security, and who to call if you need help or advice.

First, did you know that you can actually call and speak to a live person at the TSA? If you're not sure about what you can and can't bring aboard your flight, have questions about security, or just want to give feedback, you can call the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673. (Click here to see the hours the hotline is open.) Or, if you or a traveling companion are fying with a disability or medical condition, you can call the TSA Cares helpline at 855-787-2227, 72-hours before flying with any questions or concerns you may have.

Second, you may be surprised at what you can bring through security now. For example, the TSA has changed their rules, and now lets passengers bring snow globes in their carry-on luggage—the catch, however, is that the snow globe must be able to fit in the quart-sized liquids bag. You can also now wear gel insoles in your shoes (good news for those holiday high heel wearers). Bringing some leftovers on the flight back home? The TSA reminds you that solid foods (including turkeys!) are allowed, but check this list to see which foods are considered liquids and can't be brought in carry-on luggage unless it meets the 3-1-1 rule. (Sorry, cranberry sauce.)

If in doubt about what to bring, you can always download the TSA's app, which lets you search to see what items are permitted through security.

Third, wrap at your own risk—pre-wrapped presents are "allowed, but not encouraged." Wrapped gifts can go through X-ray machines, but be aware that TSA agents may have to open it (and ruin your beautiful wrapping job), if an item needs further inspection.

Finally, just like Santa makes a list and checks it twice, the TSA would like to remind you to double-check yourself for guns before flying (seriously). Apparently, absent-minded flyers forgetting that they have guns in luggage is a big problem for the agency.

We (along with the TSA) hope you have a safe and speedy holiday travel season!

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