Here we are, in probably the busiest travel week of the year. U.S airlines are expected to carry 51 million passengers during the Christmas holiday period this year. That’s up 3% from last year. So, that all but guarantees a whole lot of frustrated travelers.

There’s little you can do about airport delays, canceled flights, or bad weather, but there are ways to avoid problems getting through airport security.

Avoid Toys That Look Like Weapons

First, let common sense rule. Toys that look like guns or other weapons are sure to cause problems.

But some sporting equipment will also raise eyebrows and cause problems. As far as the TSA is concerned bats and even lacrosse sticks could be used as weapons.

Use your head. These items should be in your checked luggage.

No Alcohol Over 140-Proof

Problem gifts you may not think about is hard liquor. Alcohol more than 140-proof is banned from both carry-on bags and checked luggage. So if that special bottle of booze is more than 70 percent alcohol the TSA may very well confiscate it on behalf of the FAA.

Skip the Gift Wrap

For most of us, holiday travel means visiting family and that usually involves gift giving. But brightly wrapped presents could be a problem. Anything wrapped in paper is likely to be unwrapped for inspection by the TSA.

A workaround is packing the gifts in gift bags that can easily and safely be opened by the screeners. But perhaps the best idea is to pack your presents unwrapped and carry the wrapping paper and bows separately.

Minimize Liquid Carry-ons

And then there’s the basic TSA rule for air travel – the 3-1-1 rule. That rule applies to gifts too. Any gift containing a liquid will have to be in checked baggage or weight less than 3.4 ounces. And yes, the rule applies to expensive perfumes as well.

No Snow Globes

Here’s something that may surprise you. Think twice about putting that snow globe you bought for your favorite niece in your carry-on. Large globes contain more than 3.4 ounces of liquid might be confiscated by the TSA. Any snow globe bigger than a tennis ball should be checked.


This should be a happy time of year for you. Use common sense when packing for air travel. There are many things totally out of your control to cause frustration. Don’t let a surprise encounter with a TSA agent be one of them.