Travel Restrictions Have Been Eased! Aren't you Glad?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lifted some of the carry on restrictions on US flights that were imposed in August. That is welcome news to air travelers. Previously, with the exception of medications and baby formula/milk, no liquid or gel like substances were allowed to be carried onto the plane. They had to be placed in checked luggage.
So just what are the new, less restrictive, regulations? Here's a run down. Passengers may take liquid or gel like items such as toiletries with them through security if they are placed in a quart-size, clear plastic zip top bag. Only one zip top bag per passenger will be allowed. The liquid or gel in the containers can only be 3 ounces or less which is the common size for travel sized shampoos, toothpastes, etc. The containers may not be capable of holding more than 3 ounces, even if there are only 3 ounces of liquid or gel in them. For example, if you have an 11 ounce sized bottle of shampoo, but only 3 ounces of shampoo are left in the bottle, you cannot bring the bottle on.
The plastic bags will need to be taken out of carry on luggage and x-rayed separately. The machines can identify if a substance is unusual, but they cannot determine if the substance is explosive or bomb-related. However, the TSA hopes to have machines that can detect those types of substances in the nation's checkpoints in the future. They are currently testing machines that use magnetic resonance imaging to detect explosive substances that can be used to make a bomb.
Saline solution, eye drops, medicines and infant formula/milk does not need to be in the zip top bag. They should be separate, but you must let screeners know about them before entering the security checkpoint. Also, security has the right to request a taste test of infant formula/milk, and very likely may do so. It's hard to believe it's come to this, but it has.
Also, liquid and gel items that are bought at the shops on the concourse after going through security can now be brought onto the plane. That means that you can buy water and other beverages, full sized toiletries, or other previously restricted items for use on the plane.
The partial lift on the bans is good news for air travelers, particularly those who use carry on luggage only.
The US is not the only country lifting some of their restrictions. Last Friday, the UK's Department for Transport came out with revised restrictions. For flights that are originating outside of the UK, they will allow liquid and gel like substances to come with passengers. For flights originating from the UK, the restrictions are still stricter than those in the US. This is important information to know for those who are traveling from the US to the UK and home again. The carry on bag and items you left the US with may not be allowed to be carried on when returning to the US.
Each passenger may carry one (and only one) travel bag not bigger than 56cm x 45cm x 25cm (which is approximately 22inches x 17 ½inches x 9 ¾inches). Any other bags brought on board such as a handbag must fit inside of the one allowed carry on. Any bag that is bigger than the allowed dimensions will be required to be checked.
The only exception to the one bag rule seems to be for musical instruments. They may be carried on, but they will need to be x-rayed first.
The Department for Transport still has some tight restrictions on what can be placed in the carry on bag. There can be no liquid cosmetics, toiletries, liquids, gels, or beverages in the bag or on a person when going through security.
Necessary liquid medicines may be in the carry on bag, but the quantity cannot exceed 50ml. Also liquid baby formula/milk may be carried on, but the contents of every bottle must be tasted by the guardian of the baby at the security check point.
Electronic equipment such as laptops, cell phones, PDA's and MP3 players will need to be removed from the carry on bag and screened separately.
Items that are purchased after going through the security check point in the airport's shops may be taken on board.
Things are not back to normal yet, but they are getting better. So, the question now is where are you and your 3 ounces of shampoo going to travel this fall? Here are some ideas.
For all of you leaf peepers out there (leaf peeping is an actual activity – they talked about it on an episode of The West Wing once) how about treating your shampoo to a long weekend in the Northeast. Try Baltimore, MD where from October 1 – November 30, 2006 you can enjoy "Free Fall Baltimore." If you plan your trip for mid-October you can catch some beautiful fall foliage and take advantage of the city's promotion.
The promotion offers free admission to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Museum (where you can probably view a few landscape portraits of fall foliage, too). There are also over 175 free cultural events going on throughout the city during the promotional time. For more information go to freefallbaltimore.com.
If leaf peeping isn't your cup of tea, then how about making your fall excursion all about a glass of wine. Head to Napa Valley where it's harvest season. Napa Valley is the biggest wine region in the United States, and when fall arrives the wineries begin to have samplings of their upcoming vintages. Treat yourself to food and wine pairings, fall festivals, cultural events at theaters and opera houses and a good wine education.
However, if you do choose to bring some of Napa Valley's treasures home with you, have the winery pack them for the flight. They won't be allowed in your carry on luggage.
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