If you’re about to head out on your first vacation since the pandemic started, double-check that you’re following the right guidelines when you pack your bags for your flight, and maybe leave the can of stew and bottle of hot sauce in the kitchen.
While the rules aren’t new, Transportation Security Association spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said airports have seen an increase in prohibited items brought in carry-on bags now that more people are flying after COVID-19 travel restrictions have eased.
“At Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, right now we’re seeing about 70% of the passenger volume we saw before the start of the pandemic,” Farbstein said. “We do advise that people get to the checkpoints about 90 minutes before their flight.”
During a press conference at the airport on Friday, Farbstein talked about common mistakes travelers make when packing liquids in a carry-on bag.
The most common no-nos that travelers bring to the checkpoint through the screening process are liquids, gels and aerosols that are larger than the acceptable limit. Each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols that are 3.4 ounces or less through a checkpoint providing those items fit into a one quart-sized, resealing bag.
“If you can spill it, spread it, or pour it, it’s considered a liquid, gel or aerosol,” Farbstein said.
Common travel items that must comply with the liquids rule include toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sun block, mouthwash and lotions. Containers of liquids, gels and aerosols that are larger than 3.4 ounces, regardless of the size container, may be transported in checked baggage.
The exception to the rule is that, due to the pandemic, TSA now allows travelers to bring one liquid hand sanitizer container of up to 12 ounces. That’s one container per passenger in their carry-on bags.
Passengers can expect that these containers larger than the standard allowance of 3.4 ounces of liquids permitted through a checkpoint will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to their checkpoint experience.
Farbstein showed dozens of examples of real items that had been confiscated from travelers at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport. These included full size toiletries such as facial cleanser and sunscreen and more unusual items like a can of Brunswick stew and a bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce.
Farbstein also pointed out brand new perfumes and skincare products that cost over $50 but could not be brought past checkpoint.
But Farbstein said the most common item that TSA agents have to ask travelers to leave behind is water bottles.
“We recommend if you do show up with a beverage, just step out of the checkpoint line, go back on the public side of the checkpoint, finish your beverage or spill it out,” she said. “And you can bring that empty bottle [back through the line] and fill it up on the secure side of the checkpoint and you have saved yourself a few dollars,” Farbstein said.
Farbstein encouraged travelers to think about waiting to buy certain items, such as sunscreen and stew, until they reach their destination.