Since 9/11, packing for air travel means packing to get through airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) maintains a list of seven prohibited item categories: guns and firearms, sporting goods, tools, sharp objects, self defense and martial arts items, flammable and explosive materials, crippling chemicals and other hazardous items, and a miscellaneous “other item” list. Security personnel screen over 7,000 bags each day at over 450 airports across the United States.
Throwing a few extra bits of clothing and personal essentials into a piece of carry-on luggage doesn’t cut it anymore. The TSA now asks air travelers to abide by the “3-1-1” rule: no liquid or gel in a container which carries greater than 3.4 ounces; plastic bags must be clear, zip-top bags no greater than one quart filled with no greater than 3.4 ounce clear containers; and only one carry-on bag per person is allowed in the security bin. The idea is to consolidate your essentials into one baggie to speed through security screening. Larger liquids such as medications, baby formula, and baby food, including breast milk are allowed to reasonably exceed the 3.4 ounce rule; but, these items must be declared at the security checkpoint. Checked baggage may contain containers of gel or liquid greater than 3.4 ounces.
Computers are a staple of air travel. Laptops must be “checkpoint friendly” meeting five standards regarding the laptop only section of the laptop bag. The TSA requires that the laptop must reside in the laptop only designated section. This section must unfold completely in order to lie flat on the x-ray machine and nothing but the laptop may be packed within that section. There cannot be any metal adornments, functional or not, such as: zippers, snaps, or buckles underneath or atop of that section as well as no pockets outside or inside of section for the laptop only.
Batteries for electronics should be marked with UL or IEC designations for safety and placed in the carry-on with the device turned off. Lithium batteries are extremely flammable and pose a fire hazard, although regular batteries do not.
There are twenty “special item” categories air travelers must familiarize themselves with such as: alcoholic beverages, crematory containers with deceased remains, currency, hobby items, and service animals. Check with the airline or the TSA website for specific guidelines regarding all twenty categories. While checking the TSA web site regarding items allowed for airline travel, do not forget to check tickets, travel insurance and travel medical insurance policies for policy contact information to round out packing for travel. Make sure that policy numbers are packed securely and are easily accessible. While not needed in order to pass through security checkpoints, it is prudent to have currency, important contact information, and any required documentation, such as: valid passports and airline tickets, close at hand. Remember to split valuable items into carry-on and checked luggage.
As for the traditional packing for air travel advice, travel with the basics, allow for packing souvenirs and gifts, and roll your clothing for less wrinkling, although wrinkling always seems to occur. Some things NEVER change.