Matching luggage. Check. Digital camera and memory card. Check, check. Walking shoes, already broken in. Check. Body lotion and toothpaste packed in check-in bag with firearms, brass knuckles, nanchakus, ammunition and stun gun? You probably wouldn't need the entire contents of this suitcase, but you could check them in if you wanted. It's when it comes to carry-on luggage that the post Sept. 11 restrictions pile up. Don't even think about carrying lotion, liquid makeup, lip gloss or an emergency tube of toothpaste in your carry-on. Yes, your toiletries are dangerous, a potential threat to humanity.
An oozing mess of pressurized shampoo and body lotion dripping from overhead compartments is not TSA's (Transportation Security Administration) reason for banning some toiletries, but rather terrorism threats involving household products.
"The plot that was foiled in London involved potential explosives that were hidden in everyday commodities," said Norris Beren, Executive Director of the Emergency Preparedness Institute. "It apparently involved the mixing of products."
With these items checked in and stowed away where potential terrorists cannot reach them, there isn't the opportunity to mix anything, he said.
According to TSA, it is OK to wear a gel-filled bra, but not gel shoe inserts; you can stow a corkscrew, but not every type of battery; knitting needles won't get you in trouble, but that lost tube of mascara hidden in the seams of your oversized purse will. And one thing causing the most confusion: chapped lips; you can carry lipstick, but not lip gels such as Carmex or Blistex. Sorry, guys, it's either color or cracks for you.
Local traveler Liz Brusa would liked to have known that factoid before she departed to Indianapolis last month. She was forced to throw away her tube of lipstick, not because an airport official told her to, but because her husband saw her suddenly rouged lips and refused to let her sneak it on the flight home. However, because of smart planning, she says besides a forgotten pen of Tide stain-remover that was confiscated, her airport ordeals were minimal.
Bill Mault of L&L Travel in Lodi has seen mixed results from his clients who have traveled since the airline securities measures kicked in last month. Some complain of long lines in every airport, waits that usually take 90 minutes for domestic flights are taking 2 hours, 3 hours for international. Now with domestic flights, carry-on-luggage size limits have reduced from small suitcases to only the size of backpacks and Mault's clients in London are dealing with the United Kingdom's ban on some carry-ons.
For Lodi residents Wayne and Karen West who were in Europe when the Aug. 10 terror threat occurred, the airport experience from Munich to Atlanta was much more difficult than their flight to Europe.
"Everything changed," said Wayne West, whose travel guide instructed him to pack some of the items he kept in his carry-on bag when he left the United States.
But with every hike of the rainbow-colored Homeland Security Advisory System showing the increase in terrorism against the United States from green to red, it is travelers who are suffering for America's safety.
Local travelers seem to be heeding the warnings and have been preparing for regulations that individual airlines are setting.
Deborha Longoria of Galt made her annual visit to Hawaii earlier this month, but she carefully planned. She flew her norm - Hawaiian Airlines, - and bought tickets online (at etickets.com), where she printed her own tickets at home. She carried a small purse with only a few items, packed her liquids in her check-in bag and wore sandals to avoid the constant slipping on and off bulky shoes. She carried medication in a clear plastic bag with her name on the official label.
"Medication has to have your name on it," said Longoria, who also recommends carrying over-the-counter medication in original, unopened packaging so there is no doubt of what kind of pills a traveler is really taking.
When it comes to travel, preparedness is not only key, but the hardest thing for most people to do.
"It affects travel [because] you have to rethink the way you pack," said Mault, who provides his clients with an unpdated list of items that are allowable in carry-ons during specific terror alerts.
Most importantly, Beren says good communication with fellow travelers is the most important part of reducing anxiety and making it on board. Also, make plans for losing luggage in advance and if you have a carry-on and you're not sure if you'll be allowed to take it with you, carry a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope or folded box so you can mail the item back to your home instead of tossing your goods in the nearest trash can.
Travelers and officials both agree that if you're going to travel, be prepared. Call individual airlines for regulations, keep compact carry-ons and if it's not too off-the-wall of an object, it can probably be stored in check-in suitcases.
Not Allowed to Carry-on• All creams and lotions including Neosporin or first-aid creams and ointments, topical or rash creams and ointments, suntan lotions, moisturizers, etc.
• Deodorants made of gel or aerosol
• Hair styling gels and spray of all kinds
• Lip gels such as Carmex or Blistex; Liquid lip glosses or other liquids for lips
• Liquid foundations
• Liquid, gel or spray perfumes and colognes
• Liquid mascara
• Shampoos and conditioners
• All beverages
• Yogurts or gel-like food substances
• Gel shoe inserts - Gel shoe inserts are not permitted, but shoes constructed with gel heels are allowed and must be removed and screened
• Eye drops - You are allowed to carry up to 4 oz., of eye drops with you. Volumes greater than 4 oz., are only permitted in your checked baggage.
• Knives - except for plastic or round bladed butter knives
• Knitting and Crochet Needles
• Canned or jarred goods such as soup, sauces, peanut butter, fruits, vegetables and jellies
Allowed to Carry-on• Lipstick
• Cigar Cutters
• Corkscrews (may not be allowed if knife is attached.)
• Gel-filled bras and similar prosthetics
• Non-prescription liquid or gel medicines like cough syrup and gel cap type pills - Up to 4 oz. of essential non-prescription
• Personal lubricants - Up to 4 oz.
• Scissors - plastic or metal with blunt tips; metal with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches in length.
• Walking Canes - allowed in carry-on baggage once they have been inspected to ensure that prohibited items are not concealed.
• Diabetes - liquid or gel low blood sugar treatments, including juice - Up to 5 oz. (148ml)
• Nitroglycerine pills - if properly marked with a professionally printed label identifying the medication and manufacturer's name or pharmaceutical label.
• Wheelchairs with gel cushioned seats/pads.
• Baby formula and food, breast milk and other baby items - These are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be traveling with a baby or toddler. All items including formula or breast milk will be inspected
For more information or for a complete list of permitted and prohibited items, visit http://www.tsa.gov">http://www.tsa.gov.
Source: Transportation Security Administration
Other Important Things You Need To Know:Always pack undeveloped film in check-in luggage. Though most camera equipment is allowed to be carried on, the checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film in camera equipment. Put undeveloped film and cameras containing undeveloped film in your carry-on baggage or take undeveloped film with you to the checkpoint and ask the screener to conduct a hand-inspection.
Bring a self-addressed, postage-paid folded box. If you aren't sure about carry-on items, bring your own prepared package to the airport so you can mail your belongings home or to your destination. This will reduce the risk of having to toss out important belongings.
Communication is key. Getting to your destination can be stressful, especially when travelsers are confused by airlines' guidelines. To reduce this stress and anxiety, always keep track of fellow travelers and luggage. Know cell phone numbers, meeting places and never leave luggage unattended (it is illegal, afterall).