If you plan to board an airplane for the holidays this year, think about how you will pack and transport your gifts. It may seem like the logical choice to save time and postage by wrapping presents before you travel, but think again. Your holiday efforts may be crushed if you fail to follow the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) regulations.
Can you take wrapped presents through airport security? Can you carry gifts on the plane? Should wrapped gifts go in checked luggage or in a carry-on bag? Yes and no, depending on what you take. Make sure your valued gifts get to your final destination with our guide.
If Flagged, Your Gifts Will Likely Be Unwrapped
No one wants to put in a bunch of time carefully wrapping presents only to arrive with your gifts unwrapped, poorly re-wrapped or missing altogether. Whether carry-on or checked bag, know that if your wrapped gift triggers an alarm while going through security, it will be unwrapped for inspection. The best plan is preventative action, so be sure to double check the TSA guidelines on what you can bring in your luggage before you pack. The holidays are peak travel seasons, so increase your chances of arriving with a smile! Make it easier on yourself and everyone else by planning accordingly.
Be Careful With Liquids and Foods
Remember the 3-1-1 rule limiting the amount of liquids, gels, and lotions you can pack in a carry-on. Items must be 3.4 liquid ounces or less to comply with the carry-on rule.
If you’re worried about your homemade fudge or cookies, pack them in an unwrapped, see-through plastic container inside your carry-on. Plan to pack syrup, wine or perfume in your checked baggage? Protect them with clear bubble wrap for easy identification and secure it with rubber bands instead of tape. Food gifts like jellies, jams, salsas, gourmet mustard, cheeses and the like will be confiscated at security because of their liquid content. Instead, transport them in your checked baggage securely wrapped in clear bubble wrap.
Prohibited Items Won’t Get a Pass
Remember, TSA personnel aren’t trying to be Scrooge or spoil your holiday. They have an important job to do and we must respect their efforts to keep all of us safe. Common problem items around the holiday season include snow globes with liquid, toy weapons, gel candles, and sporting equipment. To find out what can be carried through security without a hassle, do your homework in advance. Items that are most certainly security red flags would be weapons (fake or not), tools, unusual looking items and anything in bulk amounts.
Finally, keep in mind the rules will vary from country to country. Sometimes, what’s allowed (or not) in the United States will be different elsewhere. A quick online search will give you the information you need.
Choose the Best Options for You
You have choices to make, and common sense goes a long way when deciding how to fly with gifts. Consider your situation and decide the course of action that will make for smooth travel and fewer headaches. Here are a few options:
- Bring wrapping supplies with you or purchase upon arrival to wrap gifts at your destination.
- Take advantage of holiday free-shipping deals and ship your gifts ahead of you.
- Use an easily opened gift bag or box, making inspection easier. Never use tape.
- When packing gifts in checked luggage, use a hard shell suitcase to give more cushion.
- Carry your most valuable items with you at all times.
As much as arriving with beautifully wrapped gifts is the sparkling ideal of holiday movies, we live in the real world where safety is essential. At any rate, the real goal is to have your treasured gifts arrive to your loved ones in good condition. With this in mind, plan ahead how you will pack your gifts so you can fly with confidence. Travel on gift-bearing friends!
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