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Travel and Beaches

TSA tips for the holidays: Don't wrap gifts, no snow globes in carry-on

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Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 08:26 AM
TAMPA -

Stop right now. Before you wrap those presents you plan to cart with you on the airplane this week, resist the temptation.

There's no all-out ban on gift-wrapped presents, but the Transportation Security Administration warns that it's best if you don't wrap them before going through airport security.

If something in a gift that has been wrapped needs to be inspected, TSA officers will open the package, the TSA said in its customary whimsical posts at http://blog.tsa.gov/

"Our officers try their best not to mangle the gift wrap, but it's not a guarantee and it also slows down the line for everybody else when we have to do this," said Blogger Bob, who is officer Bob Burns at the agency's Washington headquarters.

That will be even more important this Thanksgiving than a year ago because passenger traffic is increasing. Tampa International Airport expects 25,500 passengers to depart today, 4 percent more than a year ago. Spokeswoman Janet Zink said airport officials expect 29,200 passengers to arrive today.

Sunday will be Tampa International's busiest day, Zink said. Southwest Airlines, the airport's busiest carrier, is adding 11 extra flights Sunday and five extra sections today, Wednesday and Monday.

The busiest departure times are between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and while parking at Tampa International is plentiful, passengers are encouraged to allow extra time and understand the guidelines to pass through security checkpoints.

Pies are permitted through airport security, but like other gifts, are subject to additional screening if an officer notices any anomalies.

"Additional screening of pies does not include our officers tasting the pies, no matter what they tell you," Blogger Bob said.

If a passenger must take cranberry sauce, spreads, gift baskets with salsa, jams and salad dressings, jellies, maple syrup, oils, vinegar, sauces, soups , wine, liquor or beer, place those in checked bags or ship them separately, the TSA advises.

The federal agency also reminds travelers snow globes are not permitted in carry-on luggage, but can be placed in checked baggage.

One passenger in Reno, Nev., Blogger Bob recalled, became irate at being told he could not take his snow globe on a flight and shouted, "I am going to blow up the plane and I know how to do it."

It's nothing personal against snow globes, it's just that there is no way of screening the sealed liquid without destroying them, Blogger Bob said.

"Also, shouting that you're going to blow up a plane is never a good thing," he said.

The TSA customarily issues holiday travel advisories, but last week responded with some extra vigor after various tweets claimed the federal agency was focusing on gift-wrapped packages even though its devices can "see through paper."

One of those gifts the TSA opened: a wrapped set of knives.

Here's one bit of good news for parents and those stuck behind kids in the security line: TSA now allows children 12 and under to leave their shoes on through security checkpoints, though the agency qualifies that rule by saying there may be times when the shoes must be taken off.

Another change: In response to complaints that the images produced by the wave body scanner invaded passengers' privacy, all units nationwide were upgraded with new software that eliminates the image of an actual passenger and replaces it with a generic outline of a person.

Want more info from the TSA? Consider downloading the MyTSA App (www.tsa.gov/mobile) for the "Can I Bring?" section as well as updates on airport delays and security line wait times.


tjackovics@tampatrib.com 9813) 259-7817
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