Shoes off or on? Your guide to get through airport security this Thanksgiving


Traveling through airports over one of the busiest travel weekends of the year can get a little stressful. So here's a breakdown of everything you need to know before you get to the TSA checkpoint.

What you can bring

Because the holidays tend to draw many infrequent or first-time travelers, the Transportation Security Administration is offering some tips to ease any potential headaches.

For a specific item, the TSA has a MyTSA app which features a "Can I bring my..." tool. It lets travelers search the item you want to pack and it'll say whether it can go in your carry-on, checked bag or both.

A few items to note:

  • Pies, cakes and turkeys are allowed to be carried on the plane, but they are subject to additional screening. Cranberry sauce, however, is only allowed in your carry-on if it's fewer than 3.4 ounces (see liquid rules below).
  • Trying to keep that food chilled? A person can only bring 5 pounds of dry ice on board, whether its in your carry-on or checked bag.
  • Wrapped gifts are allowed, but not encouraged.
  • Liquids, gels and aerosols have liquid rules if you're taking them in your carry-on. Travelers can take as many 3.4 ounce or less sized containers that will fit in one sealed clear quart-sized zip-top bag. Only one bag is allowed per person and make sure it's zipped up before you head through security. There are some restrictions, however. Check the liquid rules here.
  • Alcoholic beverages, as long as they meet size requirements and fit in your quart-sized baggie, are allowed in your carry-on. Otherwise wine, liquor and beer must be packed in your checked bag.

Don't forget to look at the TSA's list of banned items that are prohibited from being in your carry-on and/or your checked baggage.

For a look at the items that have been taken during security checks, check out the TSA on Instagram – items include a fake blood-splattered yellow chainsaw, Swiss army knives, realistic-looking toy guns, a real hatchet and a tire iron, NJ Advance Media says.

Shoes on or off?

Things to remember when it comes to going through security:

  • Children 12 and under, as well as passengers 75 and older, can keep their shoes on when going through security. Otherwise, take off your shoes so they can go through the x-ray machine.
  • All coats and jackets, no matter a person's age, must be removed.
  • If you lost or forgot your ID you can still fly, as long as you answer a few questions that help TSA verify who you are.
  • Remove oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players, etc.) and quart-sized bag of liquids from your carry-on for proper screening.
  • Some jewelry is fine to wear through security, but some items have to be removed. Read about the best practices when going through security with your jewelry.
  • Click here for information for passengers who have religious and cultural needs.

Travelers are encouraged to arrive at the airport two hours before departure to make sure they get through security on time. It's also smart to print your boarding pass at home because "that's just one more line you don't have to wait in," Hogan told the Star Tribune.

There's an app for that

There are several smartphone apps that can help ease stress while traveling. Here are a few:

  • FlightAware tracks your flight's status, including delays, cancellations and gate changes. You can set it up for a specific trip and it'll send you alerts if things change.
  • ExpertFlyer has a feature called "seat alert" that notifies you if a seat you want becomes available. This is key if you're flying with kids and don't have seats together, The Associated Press says.
  • FlightBoard has real-time departure information from 3,000 airports worldwide, which can help if you're picking someone up at the airport or if you have a connecting flight you're worried about missing.
  • The AP also recommends downloading the app for the airline you're flying – typically airline apps offer digital boarding passes and allow you to rebook your flight if needed.

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