Disclosure: Keep in mind that regulations are always changing. Please check the TSA website for the latest information. We are not responsible for errors or changes.
The airport security line is one of the most dreaded parts of travel. But in general, the experience can be fairly quick and painless, provided you have packed correctly and are prepared.
There are still a lot of myths floating around out there about what you can or cannot bring or do in the security line. Some of these are old rules that have since been relaxed, and some are just myths that never were.
Here’s a look at 5 Myths about the Airport Security Line in 2014:
1. Everyone has to take off their shoes.
While many adults have to take off their shoes, not everyone does. Children under 12 do not have to remove their shoes anymore – a huge boon to parents. In addition, some airports allow senior citizens to leave their shoes on, and that program may soon be expanded to other airports. Finally the new TSA Pre check program allows certain travelers to leave their shoes on – member of frequent flyer programs with certain airlines are sometimes cleared for this program. If you are, it will be printed on your boarding pass. (There’s more information about TSA Pre check here: http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/faqs)
2. You can’t bring a razor.
It is surprising the number of frequent travelers who still believe this one and buy disposable razors at their destinations or ask for a free one at their hotels. You can bring disposable razors, as well as razors where you keep the handle and change out disposable cartridges. The type of safety razor where you remove a couple of screws and insert an actual razor blade are prohibited, as are straight razors.
3. You can’t bring a lighter.
Once again, yes, you can. Only one per person, though. And you can bring a “normal” lighter, but not a torch one. Torch lighters are the fancier ones that burn hotter and are often used for lighting cigars. And because they are often expensive, you definitely don’t want to try to buy one and then lose it at security. When in doubt, just buy a cheap Bic lighter for travel and leave your good one at home.
4. You have to remove all electronics from your bag.
You must remove your laptop from your bag, unless you have a TSA-approved laptop bag that zips partially open (and if you have one of those, you know it). If you have your laptop in a laptop sleeve that just holds your laptop, you can leave it in there. You need to put that laptop (including the sleeve, if you have one) in one of the plastic bins by itself – don’t stack things on top of it. However, many people believe that you must remove all electronics – iPads and other tablets, Kindles and Nooks, cell phones, etc., and put those in bins. None of those have to come out of your carry-on bag – only the laptop.
5. You can take as much infant formula or breast milk as you want.
Most of us are aware of the rules about liquids – that you can’t take liquids in quantities of more than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on, and that those liquids need to be in a quart-sized ziptop bag that can be removed from your luggage to be checked. (More info on the 3-1-1 rules here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/3-1-1-carry-ons) But those rules are relaxed when you travel with an infant – you can bring formula or breast milk. However, many moms believe you can bring as much as you want, and that’s not the case. The TSA asks that you bring what you need for the infant’s comfort on the plane trip, not on your whole vacation. Bring plenty, in case of flight delays – but one or two days’ worth and one or two weeks’ worth are not the same thing – you may be questioned or given a hard time if you have packed enough for the whole trip in your carry-on. It should go in your checked luggage.
Going through airport security can be a pretty painless process, if you follow the rules. The TSA has a search item box at the top of their home page at TSA.gov called “Can I Bring My…?” – it’s a great place to start with any questions you have about specific items.
Guest blogger Leigh Caldwell blogs at ThemeParkMom.com.