Flying for the holidays? Here’s what you can take on the plane

US & World

A gift bag and gift box for holiday gifts. The TSA says these are better alternatives to wrapping paper when flying with gifts. (Photo Courtesy: Transportation Security Administration)

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – If your winter plans include traveling to celebrate the holidays, the Transportation Security Administration has tips on what you can take through a security checkpoint and what needs to travel in a checked bag.

TSA officers say they recommend passengers not wrap gifts with wrapping paper for travel. They say wrapped items are screened in the normal process, and if the item triggers the security screening technology’s alarms, the item will need to be unwrapped for officers to inspect. Alternatives include traveling with the gift unwrapped or placing it in a gift bag or gift box that can be easily accessed.

Here are some more tips on what can or can’t go through the check point:


The TSA says electronics can travel in carry-on luggage, but all electronics larger than a cellphone will need to be placed in a bin with nothing above or below it to go through security. While the TSA does allow drones through checkpoints, officers say to check with the airline for their drone-specific travel policies.

When it comes to batteries for electronics, “dry” batteries such as AA, AAA, 9-volt, C and D can all be carried through a checkpoint. TSA officials say lithium batteries with 100 watt-hours or less installed in a device are acceptable, but loose lithium batteries are prohibited in checked bags and can only travel in carry-on bags. Visit the Federal Aviation Administration’s website for more on their regulations on lithium batteries if you plan to travel with them.


For food, the TSA says the general rule is that solid food can go through a checkpoint, but “if you can spill it, spray it, spread it, pump it or pour it” the item needs to be placed in a checked bag if they are larger than 3.4 ounces. In more detail:

  • Baked goods such as cookies pies and cakes as well as tins of items like cookies, pretzels or popcorn can be carried through security checkpoints.
  • Items that fall into a liquid category such as preserves, jams, jellies and syrups need to be in a checked bag.
  • Beverages such as wine, champagne or egg nog should be packed in checked bags. Beverages with more than 24% but not more than 70% alcohol by volume are limited to five liters per passenger. Beverages with 24% alcohol by volume or less are not subject to limits in checked bags.
  • Mini-bottles of alcohol that fit in a single, quart-sized bag are may be placed in carry-on luggage with a limit of one quart-sized bag per person, the TSA says.
  • With cheese, solid blocks may be carried through checkpoints. Soft, spreadable cheeses, however, should be placed in a checked bag.
  • Chocolates may also go in carry-on bags.
Traditional holiday gifts
  • Perfumes less than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml that fit into a quart-sized bag may be placed in carry-on luggage. 3.4 ounce or 100 ml bottles that do not fit into a quart-sized bag and larger bottles must go into checked bags.
  • Snow globes that have less than 3.4 ounces of liquid can go into a carry-on bag if the entire snow globe, including the base, fits into a quart-sized, resealable plastic bag. The TSA says these snow globes are generally about the size of a tennis ball. If the snow globe does not fit or is larger than 3.4 ounces, it needs to be packed in a checked bag.
  • Jewelry can be carried through a checkpoint, however, the TSA does not recommend wearing bulky jewelry or large belt buckles while traveling as they can trigger security alarms.
  • Candles in solid traditional designs can be placed in carry-on bags. Gel-type candles however need to go in checked bags.
  • Snowboards, snowshoes and ice skates can be carried through a checkpoint, but the TSA says passengers should check with the airline about overhead bin space. Skis and ski poles, however, should travel as checked baggage.
  • Advent calendars can also be packed in carry-on luggage.

Travelers who aren’t sure if they should pack an item in a carry-on or a checked bag can visit the TSA website, and click the “What can I bring?” feature. There, they can type in the name of the item to see if it can go through a checkpoint or if it should be checked. Passengers can also tweet @AskTSA to ask how best to travel with a specific food or another type of item.

The TSA also says those traveling will need to follow the CDC’s guidelines on wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

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