TSA offers suggestions on making travel easier


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ST. THOMAS - Holiday travel often means long lines at airport security, but the Transportation Security Administration has some tips to make the process smoother.

First, arrive on time and leave enough time to check baggage and move through security. Check with airlines for a recommended arrival time.

Pack Smart. Pack an organized carry-on bag using layers - a layer of clothes, then electronics, more clothes, and then any heavier items.

TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz said that will help transportation security officers better see what is in your bag.

"Innocent items can actually appear to be potential threats in an X-ray image simply by the way they are packed," she said.

TSA recommends that passengers do not travel with wrapped packages. In order to determine whether the contents of a package are a threat, a security officer may need to unwrap and inspect the item.

Pay attention to 3-1-1 rule. Liquids, gels, and aerosols are allowed in 3 oz. containers, placed in a 1 quart-size, clear plastic, zip-top bag, one bag per traveler.

"If you can pour it, pump it, squeeze it, spread it, smear it, spray it or spill it, it's subject to these limits," Koshetz said.

Tamarind and cherry stews are considered liquids and gels, and if the item is more than 3 oz., it must be wrapped carefully and packed into checked baggage.

Breast milk and medically necessary liquids, such as baby formula and insulin, are allowed in quantities more than 3 oz., but they must be declared to a security officer at the checkpoint before the items are run through the X-ray machine.

Koshetz said travelers should bring only as much of those items as they may need for their day of travel.

"An entire case of formula, for instance, would still need to go in your checked bag," she said.

Food items, such as pastries, are permitted but may require further inspection and slow down the line.

"Pies and cakes you can bring through the checkpoint, but leave extra time because they will be subject to additional screening," Koshetz said.

To try to speed things up, the TSA has changed the rules about removing shoes as passengers go through security checkpoints at the airport.

Travelers 75 and older and 12 and under do not have to take their shoes off, and all passengers can wear light outer jackets as they go through the screening, Koshetz said.

If the alarm goes off, the passenger will be given time to determine what the problem is. If nothing can be detected but the alarm has been triggered, then the passenger may have to remove his or her shoes, she said.

Koshetz said it is important to dress appropriately and suggested that women put their jewelry in their purse at home and put it on after they have cleared security.

Putting items such as a wallet, belt, bulky jewelry, money, keys and cell phones into a bag that can be run through the X-ray machine will make the line move faster for everyone, Koshetz said.

She said it is surprising what TSA agents turn up at the security checkpoints. In the territory, spearguns and boat anchors are items sometimes brought through security as carry-on luggage that should be put into checked bags, Koshetz said.

For passengers accompanying someone with special needs, or who have special needs, the TSA has a TSA Cares phone line to better prepare travelers for the security screening process.

"It's very important that we help them understand what that checkpoint experience is going to be like," Koshetz said.

Call 1-855-787-2227 to reach TSA Cares.

For more information, visit www.tsa.gov.

- Contact Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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