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The TSA’s Holiday Carry-On Rules: Bring This, Not That

With air traffic soaring during the busy holiday travel season, it’s important to remember that the TSA has strict rules about what you can and cannot carry onto a plane.

Blogger Bob, lead blogger for the TSA, offered a few holiday do’s and don’ts on a recent post, and we filled in some of his key omissions, including snowman-shaped dry ice and Christmas-themed fauna.

Do bring your fruitcake. As a solid (sometimes too much of a solid), fruitcakes of all manner are permitted through the checkpoint. Fruitcakes doubling as weapons caches are not allowed.

Don’t bring Christmas crackers. These noise-making apparatuses (pictured above), often designed to look like candy or wooden soldiers, are prohibited on aircraft. The chemical that triggers the cap-gun pop and mental breakdown of a least favorite in-law when the crackers are torn is silver fulminate, which is highly explosive.

Do bring 3.4 ounces or less of eggnog. As a liquid, eggnog is allowed only within the limits set forth by the TSA’s always confounding 3-1-1 guidelines.

Don’t bring Yule logs. We’re actually a little confused about this one, but Blogger Bob says they should be placed in your checked baggage; perhaps this is because Yule logs are traditionally extremely large, so they probably won’t fit within the carry-on baggage size limits outlined by your airline.

Do bring your mini Christmas cactus. As long as you’re traveling between U.S. gateways, it’s fine to bring along a Christmas cactus or any other holiday-related plant. However, if you’re traveling internationally, you may have issues with customs, as many countries have restrictions on bringing agricultural products across international borders.

Maybe bring wrapped gifts. Blogger Bob confirms that wrapped gifts are allowed in carry-on luggage, but not encouraged. He explains: “If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may 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.”

Do bring a dry-ice snowman to keep your medications cool … if it’s not too heavy. The U.S. government has strict regulations regarding dry ice on airplanes. Passengers may bring 2 kilograms of the substance in carry-on luggage as long as it’s stored in a package that allows the venting of carbon dioxide gas. Still, a DOT spokesperson suggested to us at one point that travelers avoid packing dry ice in carry-on luggage. Individual TSA agents unfamiliar with DOT regulations may confiscate the substance and foil your plans to add a festive touch to your medical needs.

For more on what you can and can’t bring through airport checkpoints, peruse our Airport Security Q&A.

— written by Dan Askin

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