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TSA Issues New Alert on the "Quick Question" That Will Keep You Out of Trouble

Taking the extra few minutes to answer this one question will save you tons of time at the airport.

Long lines at baggage drop-off and airport security are arguably the worst part of air travel. Sometimes these are due to staff shortages or packed flight schedules, but in many cases, extended wait times are caused by incorrectly packed bags. That's why the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a helpful outline of things you can't take on a plane. However, for items you're still unsure about, the TSA recently shared a simple tip that can help prevent potential problems.

RELATED: 10 Airport Security Secrets TSA Doesn't Want You to Know.

In 2023, more than three million questions were sent to the AskTSA team, with most inquiring whether certain items would be permitted in a carry-on or checked bag, according to a Feb. 26 TSA alert. At the end of the year, TSA found that well-informed passengers had a more "pleasant" airport experience, which also led to fewer issues at baggage drop-off and during the security screening process.

As you're drafting your packing list, TSA highly recommends cross-referencing your items with its "What Can I Bring?" page to help eliminate any surprises at the airport.

"While some items would seem to be an obvious not-going-to-travel-in-the-cabin type of prohibited item such as steak knives, switch blades and hatchets, you would be surprised at how often our officers need to intercept them at our checkpoints to assure the safety and security of travelers," TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said in the report.

Still unsure about a specific item? "A quick question to ask yourself before packing an item is whether you would want the passenger sitting next to you to have it. If your answer is no, then leave it home," said Koshetz.

Ultimately, Koshetz told travelers that they're better off contacting AskTSA's virtual assistant ahead of time as some things may require additional screening and others may be labeled illegal and could result in fines or, in some cases, arrest.

"Certain items require thinking about their chemical components before bringing them to the airport," explained Koshetz. "If an item is flammable, corrosive or explosive in nature, it cannot go in your carry-on nor in your checked bag."

RELATED: New TSA Screening Will Get You Through Security in 12 Seconds—Here's How.

That said, some items are neither flammable nor explosive and are still banned from TSA altogether. Some of these are widely known (like bottled water), but things such as scissors, corkscrews, and even hiking poles are considered hazardous.

In the case of hiking poles, Marcus Clarke, a travel expert working with Actual Travel Guide, previously told Best Life: "These can be seen as potential weapons and therefore are not allowed in carry-on bags. Always check them with your luggage if you're planning a hike at your destination."

Other sports equipment, like baseball bats and potentially even hand weights (depending on the discretion of your TSA agent), may also be removed since they can be used as weapons.

Snow globes are another unusual item you'll want to stow in your checked luggage, as most of these thoughtful souvenirs "contain more liquid than allowed, and the materials inside can obstruct clear images on the x-ray machine," Jens Johansson, a travel expert with over 10 years in the industry and founder of Airport Information, told Best Life.

Have questions about a certain item you're looking to pack? Travelers can reach AskTSA by texting 275-872, where a 24/7 virtual assistant can help. For more advanced assistance, you can request to speak with an AskTSA staff member. AskTSA is also on X (@AskTSA) and Facebook.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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