TSA Travel Rules

In anticipation of the busy holiday season travel crowds, the Transportation Security Administration is attempting to educate travelers about the restrictions on liquid products. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, the TSA is having difficulty getting the correct information to passengers.

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TSA officials regularly confiscate hundreds of liquid items from passengers' carry-on bags and purses. George Bush Intercontinental Airport Federal Security Director Art Meinke says they're throwing away large volumes of liquid items that people don't properly store in their baggage.

"I can't tell you exactly how much we're collecting, I can just tell you it's huge. And we have trash cans that just fill up tremendously with things that people take through."

The restriction on liquids and gels was put in place in August, and it's been a challenge to educate travelers on what they can and can't pack. Part of the problem is the rule changes: first it was no liquids at all, then it was only in checked bags and now there's the three ounce rule.

"We've had a problem educating our traveling public about how to get check-point ready, basically is the way I like to call it. And the campaign that the TSA is promoting is called 3-1-1 in terms of trying to make it easy to remember. So the three stands for three ounces or less, in one baggie, for one person traveling. And then the other thing that has to happen with that baggie is it has to be separate from your bag -- from your other matieral that you're going to pass through the x-ray machine."

Business travelers are now used to the routine. But the TSA is concerned about the high volume of holiday travelers who aren't familiar with the rules. They want everyone to remember the 3-1-1 code. Three ounces, in one baggie for one person. Nicki Verma travels every week for business. She says the new rules have really slowed down the lines for security and baggage claim.

"The lines for baggage claim are longer and it takes -- it adds 20 minutes to my arrival and departure, so it is very inconvenient for someone who travels on a weekly basis. You can only take three ounces, so it really isn't much if you're staying for a week, you really have to check in your bags. And people are confused in the longer security lines because they don't understand that you can't carry toothpaste or what-have-you, so it is more inconvenient. Now with the holidays it's going to be more time-consuming."

Bush Airport officials estimate lines at the security checkpoints already run five minutes longer than they should if people properly packed their liquid products. Those delays will increase even more during the Thanksgiving and Christmas rush. All liquids and gels in bottles over three ounces should be packed in checked baggage. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...