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TSA officials explain dos and don’ts of holiday airline travel

From now until the first week in January, airports will be getting busier with holiday fliers, some of whom have never flown before.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was in Columbia Thursday to discuss what not to bring to the airport ahead of the holiday travel period, which can get stressful.

“We’re in the Christmas season and a lot of people can get like the beginning of Home Alone where they’re packing up the car and running to the airport and they’re forgetting things,” said Mark Howell, a TSA spokesperson.

Howell said the best way to make sure you’re bringing everything you need and packing it in the right places, is to be familiar with the dos and don’ts of airport travel.

“The most common thing we see here at Columbia Regional are those oversized liquids that are more than 3.4 ounces,” said Howell. “Do a quick check of what you have with you before you come to the airport. It’s going to save you the hassle.”

The TSA has a 3-1-1 rule. You’re allowed to carry on 3.4 ounces or less in a one quart sized bag. Each passenger is allowed to have one plastic bag. The only exceptions are medically necessary liquids like medication and breast milk.

Weapons of any kind are also banned from carry ons, as are things that can be used as weapons, like kitchen tools.

Many items that are prohibited from security checkpoints can be packed into checked bags, like bottles of alcohol, as long as they’re under 140 proof.

Howell said long lines at the security checkpoint are often caused by people who bring prohibited items that have to be investigated and surrendered.

“Something as small as a bottle of water or a pocket knife, as you talk about it over a busy morning, can turn from a ripple into a tidal wave,” he said.

TSA will give you the option to bring those prohibited items back to your car, which is easy at Columbia Regional Airport. You can also give them to someone to take home, or mail them back to yourself. But Howell said they just hope you don’t bring them at all.

“We do get a lot of bah humbugs over the holidays when people bring prohibited items to the checkpoint, but we’re really here to make sure people get from point A to point B safely and the rules we have in place at the checkpoint to support that,” he said.

On average, passengers surrender about 50 pounds of prohibited items a month, while fliers in Kansas City surrender an average of 500 pounds. Bigger hubs like Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport can see a literal ton of prohibited items a month.

Officials recommend not wrapping any gifts before traveling, because they might have to be unwrapped at security.

To find out which items are prohibited or not, you can click here for the TSA website.

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