Stock Up On Ziplocs; Airline Rules Change

September 25, 2006
Effective tomorrow, the U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will ease standards on its six week old airline ban restricting passengers from bringing various liquids, gels and toiletries onboard airplanes. The restrictions, which as you may recall were levied as a result of a terrorist threat to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners, generated numerous changes in what travelers could, and couldn't carry onboard.

Starting tomorrow, however, travelers will be permitted to:

Carry travel-sized toiletries -- defined as three ounces or less -- that can fit comfortably (emphasis from TSA) in a one-quart clear plastic zip-top bag.

Bring items, including beverages purchased in the boarding areas, beyond security checkpoints.

The existing exemptions, such as required medications, baby formula and diabetic glucose treatments remain in effect, though passengers are still required to notify security screeners.

The official press release from the TSA notes that the ban adjustment, now in place between the U.S. and Canada, is likely to be approved by governments in the United Kingdom and European Union.

Having said that, it's still crucial to check with airports at points of departure about what really is permitted and what is not. And even then, we've found that screening procedures vary wildly in intensity; on a recent trip from Paris' Charles de Gaulle to Philadelphia, I inadvertently left lotion, shampoo, a bottle of water and lip gloss in my handbag -- none of which was ever discovered by security officers. It wasn't until I was onboard and we were in flight that I realized I was still in possession of the "forbidden" items.

Also in today's announcement, the TSA said that it would be enhancing security measures throughout the airport environment via additional canine patrols, random screening of employees, and stronger air cargo examinations.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor