The TSA Knows How To Make It Easier To Fly During The Holidays

by SharonKurheg

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been the source of annoyance for many, and the butt of jokes for probably even more. Fortunately, despite the individual TSA workers who sometimes act as if their career goal is to make travelers miserable, from a corporate point of view, they actually seem to have a sense of humor.

No, really!

The TSA Blog (they also have an Instagram and Twitter) began in January 2008 and was written by Public Affairs/Social Media Lead, Bob Burns, until his untimely death in late 2017. His posts, and the ones of those who have written for the blog, on and off, since, are a mixture of information and, believe it or not, a dry sense of humor. Some posts just review how many firearms were found in carry-on bags during the previous week. Still, if you dig a little deeper, especially into the list of things you are and are not allowed to bring in your carry on and/or onto a plane at all, it may give you a little smile – especially when it comes to the winter holiday season entries. Here are some examples from past years:

  • Annoying Family Members:
    We’ve had many requests, but we cannot add annoying family members to the No Fly List.
  • Beautiful holiday-themed wrapping paper and gift bags, oh what a sight!:
    While wrapped presents aren’t prohibited, we highly encourage you to keep your presents unwrapped in case our TSA officers need to inspect them. Both our officers and the jolly folks waiting in line behind you will be as merry as Mrs. Claus if you leave the wrapping for later.
  • Behold, new tablets, laptops, smartwatches galore!:
    Secret Santa’s got nothin’ on these guys! Tablets, e-readers, smartwatches, electronic game consoles, and blue tooth speakers can all come on board in your carry-on bag. Remember, if the device is larger than a cell phone, you’ll need to remove the item from your carry-on bag at the security checkpoint.
  • Christmas Crackers:
    Not the kind you eat with a delicious cheese-ball, but the kind that “cracks” when you pull it apart. They’re a part of a lot of people’s Christmas traditions, but they’re prohibited on aircraft.
  • Christmas Sweaters:
    While some Christmas sweaters some can have a nauseating effect on passengers, they are currently permitted through TSA checkpoints.
  • Eggnog:
    Eggnog can be an alternative to fuel depending on who’s mixing it. Sometimes there’s a fine line between a beverage and hazmat. Just sayin’… Remember the 3.4 oz baggie rule at the checkpoint. Unless it’s in a small container (3.4 oz or less), this tasty liquid treat is not allowed as carry-on.
  • Eight “crazy nights” indeed!:
    Consider your menorah and Chanukah candles golden to bring in your carry-on. If your menorah uses oil to light those candles (#impressed!), make sure it follows the 3-1-1 liquid rule or go ahead and put it in your checked bag.
  • Fruitier than fruit cake…is that possible??:
    Fruit cake, and no we’re not talking about Great Aunt Myrtle, is welcome to join you in your carry-on along with your sufganiyot (traditional Chanukah jelly donuts), plum cake, gingerbread cookies and other sugary treats. While it’s not required, consider removing your food from your carry-on bags and placing it in a separate bin to expedite the screening process.
  • Hmmm, how’d that snowman get stuck in a glass ball of water? And does glitter come from the North Pole? #snowglobemysteries:
    Ornaments, shimmering decorations, and snow globes are what holidays are made of. And while most of these whimsical objects are fine to bring in your carry-on, it’s important to remember this rule of thumb: We are not in cahoots with the Heat Miser, but most snow globes are not permitted in your carry-on luggage. They are sealed containers full of liquid that would have to be opened and destroyed to test. We’re not in the business of busting snow globes, so we suggest you place them in your checked baggage or mail them ahead of time. Snow globes can only have 3.4 ounces of liquid or less and need to fit in a quart-sized resealable plastic bag. So shake it up Mr. Snowman!
  • Holiday beverages!:
    Sparkling schnapps, mulled wine, buttered rum punch, and peppermint chocolate martinis…it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Go ahead and stock these delicious beverages in your checked bag’s makeshift mini-bar right next to your ugly holiday sweater collection. If it’s the stuff that makes Santa and his reindeer sway (contains 24-70% alcohol), keep these guys in their original unopened packaging and make sure to only bring 5 liters or less.
  • A holiday without lights?! Bah humbug:
    Light up the holiday! You can bring your string of multicolored twinkling lights in either your carry-on or checked bags. Just make sure you don’t get tangled up in them on the way through the security checkpoint.
  • Let’s spruce up the holidays, shall we?:
    Poinsettias, holly, and laurel really green up the holidays during the cold winter months. That’s why we’re happy to say that you can bring a plant as a carry-on as long as your plant fits in the overhead compartment or under your seat. No judgment if your plant is sporting a seasonal hat or beard.
  • Mistletoe:
    Although the name may sound a bit nefarious, mistletoe (not missile-toe) is permitted. Just don’t expect the person sitting in the middle seat to kiss you.
  • Travel Advice for Frosty the Snowman:
    You are not frozen solid and are larger than 3.4 ounces, so you may not board the plane.


By the way, if you plan to be flying this holiday season, click here for a very helpful TSA blog post that gives advice about traveling in mid-late December.

Safe travels to you and yours!

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