Travel

Busted! The TSA banned my Ban

Some people rant about high taxes, health care or creeping potholes. I’m just mad that the government took my deodorant.
That’s right, a few weeks ago in the very non-busy Pensacola airport, a TSA agent in the security line confiscated my Ban roll-on deodorant — the same lime green container that has logged more than 15,000 air miles traveling, unhassled, to and from Germany, Texas, Ft. Lauderdale and other domestic destinations this year.

As I stood there in disbelief, the agent pointed out that it was 3.5 ounces — or a mere .1 ounces over the TSA’s legal limit of 3.4 ounces.

Oops — busted!

I was shocked, especially since my half-empty container already had made it unscathed through so many other check points.
But I was also glad he grabbed my deodorant when I was on my way home, rather than the other way around, if you get my drift.
All I can say is he must have been really bored that sleepy Monday morning.

I’m sharing this incident today as a cautionary tale for fellow road-warriors, who, if you’re like most holiday travelers, are feeling rushed and frantic in this last week leading up to Christmas.

As you prepare to head to the airport, don’t get sloppy about packing your carry-on bag. Holiday travel is hectic enough without having your favorite products confiscated — as mine was — at the security line.

Here are some basic tips to help you master the art of efficient packing:

* Know before you go: Brush up on current security restrictions before you travel. The TSA follows the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage, meaning liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers no bigger than 3.4 ounces enclosed in a 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag, with one bag allowed per person.

* Search for samples: Travel sizes are relatively inexpensive and are available in everything from toothpaste and shaving cream to makeup remover and sunscreen. Only take items you use on a daily basis.

* Strategically pack your carry-on: Make a checklist of essential products needed for the first few days of your trip and reduce any unnecessary bulk — or doubles — by crossing off items as you pack.

* Buy when you arrive: When in doubt, purchase liquid items once you arrive at your destination. Hotels usually have basic toiletries available.

And if you’re curious about when/why the legal limit for liquids shifted from 3 ounces to 3.4 ounces — and wondering why you may not know it, since airport signage still says 3 ounces — you’ll find an interesting discussion on this nearly two-year-old (!) TSA blog here:

Susan R. Pollack
Globetrotting journalist and former Detroit News staff writer Susan R. Pollack has covered travel since 1985, visiting scores of countries on five continents, 48 states, six Canadian provinces and hundreds of cities, islands and outposts along the way. From Alaska, the Galapagos and New Zealand to South Africa, Thailand and Wales, she has suffered the occasional lost luggage, jetlag and Montezuma’s revenge but still delights in sharing travel adventures with readers. In addition to The Detroit News, her award-winning stories and photos have appeared in major newspapers including the Dallas News, Toronto Star, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Chicago Sun Times; and magazines including Delta Sky, Midwest Living, Long Weekends, Experience Michigan, Jetsetter, Home & Away, Hour Detroit, Prevue Meetings and Group Tour. She has contributed to several books including "Rand McNally 2008 Ultimate NASCAR Road Trip Guide," and is the copy editor for secondchancetravels.com. She also has written for websites including gardendestinations.com and travelingmom.com.