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Holiday packing tips for air travelers

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Airport baggage handler (Photo: Index Open)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 14, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, holiday, Jessica Labrencis.

Packing for your holiday flight this month will be more difficult than in past years. The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) restrictions on liquids and gels may encompass more items than you might expect, so we've compiled some additional tips on packing for the holidays.

  • Leave your gifts unwrapped. If TSA agents need to inspect a package more thoroughly, they'll unwrap it, undoing all your hard work. Instead, consider packing collapsible gift bags and colorful tissue paper rather than wrapping paper and the scissors, tape, and bows that go with it. Or, ship your gifts to their recipients before you fly.
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  • Remember that the liquid and gel restrictions apply to foods as well. During the Thanksgiving long weekend, reports from travelers told both of some pies being confiscated at security and other pies sailing through problem-free, complete with security agents commenting on the potential deliciousness of said pies. Since the rules for foods remain up to each agent's discretion, err on the side of caution and pack the pies in checked bags or leave them at home.
  • Even nonbaked goods are restricted this year. Jam, pudding, salsa, olive oil, and other foods in liquid or gel form must be three ounces or smaller or they won't be permitted.
  • If you're packing gifts that are liquids or gels, pack them in your checked bags. The restrictions apply to anything from wine or other alcohol to perfume, lotion, makeup, gel candles, and similar items. Even snowglobes aren't permitted. The only exceptions are for items purchased after security.
  • Visit the TSA's website for specific information on what is permitted and prohibited in checked and carry-on baggage.

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