• Wendy Bradfield

12 Updated TSA Tips & Packing Refresher

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

Covid travel tips for carry-on




Covid - 19 has changed the way we travel, and here you will find updated TSA tips to help you plan and prepare. These tips focus on how to go through security with your carry-on items. Here you will find recent changes that will be updated regularly to reflect the current TSA rules and regulations.


Post-pandemic travel is a jungle out there, so do your research and don't be left behind. These tips will get you started on the right foot.


Let's have a look!


1. Liquids, gels, and squishy stuff


You are now allowed to bring a 12 oz bottle of hand sanitizer and or a tub of antibacterial wipes with your carry-on in addition to your 1-quart bag of liquids (3.4oz).


Put them in a separate clear bag and into the bin for inspection. Note - all liquids, gels, and squishy stuff is considered liquid and must be in a bottle that’s 3.4oz or less, and if it’s only half full, it still counts as full.


For example, you cant bring a large bottle of shampoo in your carry-on even if it only has a tiny bit left. All bottles, jars, and containers must be 3.4oz or less.


Liquid medications must be separate from your 1-quart bag of liquids and in their original container.


2. Masks


Cloth masks only, no gators or handkerchiefs. You must keep your mask on between bites and sips. You have to wear your mask in airport lounges.


You can wear a plastic face shield, but you still have to wear your mask.


The same rules apply to your babies and toddlers, so start practicing with them before your trip to be safe.


3. Food & alcohol


Place all food in a clear ziplock and put it in the grey bin along with your liquids bag. For TSA Precheck - technically, you shouldn’t have to put your food in the grey bin, but reports have come in that they are asking you to do so.


In the United States, you can bring 3.4oz of alcohol that fits in a one quart-sized clear zip-lock bag - one bag per passenger, unopened.


Check your airline to see if you can drink your own hooch on the plane. Alcohol over 140 proof is not allowed in carry-on or checked luggage!


4. TSA Precheck and Clear benefits

If you plan on traveling soon, now is the time to invest in TSA Precheck or Clear. TSA Precheck provides expedited security screening benefits for flights departing from U.S. Airports.


Global Entry provides the TSA Precheck benefit plus expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the United States. With TSA Precheck, you'll be directed to a dedicated screening lane where you may not need to remove your shoes, jacket or belt, or laptop from its bag.


As pandemic travel increases, security lines are longer and take more time to go through. TSA Precheck is one of the best ways to streamline your travel experience.


Check your wallet because they reimburse you for TSA Precheck if you have the Capital One Venture card. It's my favorite credit card for travel.


Otherwise, it's a steal for $85 with 5 years of benefits.


5. Keys, belts, heavy metal jewelry, phones & wallets


To reduce touchpoints, you no longer need to put these items in the bins. Instead, they should be packed in your carry-on. Every airport is different, so be prepared to comply if they ask you to place any of these in the bin anyway.


6. Electronics


TSA says any electronic larger than a cell phone must be placed in the bins for inspection. However, I wasn't asked to place any electronics in the bin with my TSA Precheck status. Woohoo! Get it free with the Capital One Venture card.


7. ID & Ticket scan


Have your ID & ticket ready. Screenshot your ticket. They will have you hold up your ID and scan your own ticket on the ticket reader. You will be asked to pull down your mask for identification confirmation.


24 hours before your flight, you can check-in online or wait until you arrive at the airport. You can print your ticket or pull it up on your phone.


Another major change just announced is you no longer need to show your boarding pass at TSA checkpoints. Instead, you run your passport or driver's license/state ID through a scanner to verify your identity.


I still had to scan my boarding pass. It may not be in effect everywhere, so be prepared.



8. Inconsistencies


Expect inconsistencies from airport to airport. We've yet to adopt an International protocol for pandemic travel besides having a negative covid - 19 test result. Expect the unexpected.


9. MYTSA App


Check out the Free TSA app you can use to get all your questions answered. Keep it handy when you are going through the line if the TSA officer is giving you a hard time, but research your questions before your trip to ensure your trip goes smoothly.


10. Medication

Be sure to have your prescription available in case airport security asks for it. Liquid medicines are exempt from the 3.4oz liquid maximum rule, and you should declare that you have medication.


While TSA doesn't require it, it's beneficial to put your medication in its own clear bag separate from your 1-quart ziplock toiletries bag. You must place it in the grey bin for inspection.


TSA is allowed to open your medication, so the more you can efficiently prepare it (a separate clear bag), the better and quicker you can be through the line. If you plan to bring opioids or any narcotic, I would bring your prescription and make sure it's in the original bottle.


As for marijuana, or anything cannabis-related, including CBD oil, TSA is vague about this, and I suggest you do your research. Here's a link to get you started.


As for international travel, you must research your destination country to learn about alcohol, medications, and illegal substance restriction and rules. Some countries are very strict about medications, even over-the-counter ones you can buy in the United States - so beware and do your homework.


Check this link out from TSA about disabilities & medications for more information on navigating the TSA screening process if you have disabilities, concerns about medications, or equipment.


11. Medical equipment

Any medically necessary equipment should not go in your checked luggage as it can be easily damaged or stolen. CPAP machines, insulin, syringes, and other medical equipment must be declared and placed in the grey bins.


The good news is in the United States, it doesn't count against your personal items or carry-on luggage. So keep your CPAP the carrying cases.


Check your destination country to find details about carrying your medical equipment. Consider buying medical tags that identify your medical equipment to TSA and other airport security to make things run smoothly.


12. Covid-19 PCR testing

For travel within the United States and abroad, all passengers must provide negative PCR covid-19 documentation. Check your destination to find out the type of test (nearly all destinations require a PCR test, not a Rapid Antigen test), the window of time you have between taking the test, and when you are due to arrive at your destination.


If you are outside the designated time window when you arrive, you may not be permitted to enter the country or state. Things get significantly tricky when dealing with lengthy travel abroad, so do your research well in advance. Check this link to get started.


I hope these updated TSA tips and refresher serve you well in your post-pandemic travels, my friend. Stay safe and bon voyage!


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