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Be prepared for airline security requirements

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Airport security (Photo: P. Wei, iStockphoto.com)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 30, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Erin Liszewski, security.

Even the most seasoned travelers occasionally find themselves in the airport security line, ferociously throwing sunblock, scissors, and bottles of water into the trash. Planning ahead and being prepared for security requirements can save you time—and your favorite lotion.

Implemented just over a year ago, the 3-1-1 rule is familiar to most travelers. However, it's always a good idea to refresh your memory and be extra prepared for that security line. Remember that all liquid, gel, or aerosol containers—not contents—must be three ounces or less. That means a half-full four-ounce tube of toothpaste won't make the cut. And each traveler is limited to one quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.

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Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has stated, "It is unlikely that additional changes in the liquid, aerosol, and gel policy will be made in the near future," a few minor changes have been made in the past few months.

Two new rules to keep in mind:

  • You must remove larger electronic devices, such as video game consoles and DVD players, from your carry-on luggage and place them on the security conveyor belt.
  • You can bring a "reasonable quantity exceeding three ounces" of breast milk in a carry-on, even if you're not flying with a child. Considered a "medical necessity," it must be separated from the other items in your quart-size bag and declared to the security officer at the security checkpoint for possible additional screening.
  • And always remember to give yourself enough time to get through security and, when in doubt, put your liquids in your checked luggage. Read more on traveling with liquids, specifically alcohol purchased at a duty-free shop.

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