TSA Issues New Reminder About What You Can't Take Through Airport Security
Don't get yourself into legal trouble when you travel this summer.
If you're lucky, you've never had an issue making your way through airport security. However, most of us have experienced the anxiety of having our bag flagged due to a stray water bottle or too-large shampoo. In these instances, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer typically asks you to throw the item out, and then allows you to move on to your gate. But while these little mistakes don't cause too much of a stir, TSA just issued a new reminder about the errors that could land you in serious trouble. Read on for the latest warning from the agency.
One prohibited item is set to have a record-breaking year.
On July 20, TSA and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) reminded travelers about flying with firearms.
In the news release, the agency notes that so far this year, approximately 3,251 firearms have been intercepted at security checkpoints–and 92 percent of those collected were loaded. Over the same six-month period in 2022, 3,053 guns were intercepted.
TSA cites these numbers as "troubling," and according to Forbes, if this upward trend continues, 2023 may break last year's record of 6,542 firearm interceptions at U.S. airports.
Under no circumstances can you take a firearm through security.
TSA is urging travelers to educate themselves about flying with firearms, which can never be taken through a security checkpoint. Minnesota TSA Federal Security Director Marty Robinson also noted that there are no "exemptions" from this policy, even if you have a concealed carry permit or if you're enrolled in TSA PreCheck.
According to the press release, firearms must be transported in checked luggage. They have to be unloaded and "packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter."
If you're caught trying to take a firearm through security, the penalties are steep. TSA can fine you up to $14,950, revoke TSA PreCheck eligibility for five years, and even require you to undergo enhanced screening. On top of that, passengers are also processed "in accordance with local laws on firearms," which presents additional consequences.
"It's been concerning to see our officers dispatched to a growing number of incidents involving guns at checkpoints—just one gun is too many when it comes to keeping the public safe," MSP Airport Police Chief Matt Christenson said. "If you're caught with a gun at the checkpoint, you will be arrested and interviewed. You will also face at least a misdemeanor criminal charge—or jail time, in some cases."
This isn't the first reminder this month.
Of course, firearms are far from the only prohibited item when you're going through security, which is why TSA regularly releases these reminders.
On July 6, the agency issued another alert for summer travelers, stressing the importance of "Know Before You Go." In the press release, TSA noted that prohibited items are the most common issue that slows down security—and no one wants to be that person.
"Planning ahead and packing properly can facilitate the TSA security screening process and ease a passenger's travel experience at the airport," John Essig, TSA's Federal Security Director at John F. Kennedy International Airport, said in the release. "That's why it is important to know what can be packed in carry-on and/or checked baggage before arriving at the airport."
TSA listed other items that will get you flagged.
While guns are one of the more concerning prohibited items that get flagged, they're not the only dangerous things found at security. According to Essig, TSA officers have also noticed that more knives are coming through.
"If you must travel with a knife, please pack it in your checked bag," Essig said in the release, also noting that travelers are also forgetting about liquids.
"It's important to remember that liquids, gels, aerosols and spreadables are limited to 3.4 ounces in one clear quart-sized bag in carry-on bags," he added. "Finish that bottle of water, energy drink or cup of coffee before you get to the checkpoint. Pack the larger shampoo, toothpaste, sunblock and hair gel in a checked bag."
Unsure if you can take something in your personal item or carry-on? TSA has a number of helpful resources. Travelers can use the What Can I Bring? tool on TSA's website; search on the free MyTSA app; tweet a question and mention @AskTSA; or send questions via text to AskTSA (275-872) or Facebook Messenger.