5 things to know about 2011 holiday travel
From the crowds to the weather, traveling over the holidays has always been a challenge. Then 9/11 happened and the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) introduced the added hurdle of increased airport security, including removing your shoes, not carrying on liquids in amounts greater than three ounces, and multiple stages of screening. A decade later, the TSA is still trying to manage the complex challenge of keeping our country safe without infringing on our basic rights. Below are five things you can expect during your 2011 holiday travels:
1. Looser restrictions for children
The TSA has changed its policy on child pat-down searches. As of 2011, children under the age of 12 will no longer have to remove their shoes to pass through security and the number of child pat downs will be reduced significantly, but not eliminated. Instead of invasive pat downs, young children can expect detectors, image machines or hand swabs to check for traces of explosives.
During a “chat-down,” blue-uniformed TSA officers may ask you basic questions about why you’re traveling. As you answer, they’ll be looking for behavioral “tells” — eye movements, perspiration and your Adam’s apple — that indicate suspicious behavior.
3. Improved treatment of nursing women
Perhaps the most infamous TSA story is that of the travelling mother who was asked to taste her own breast milk. Since then, the TSA has changed its policy on breast milk. Mothers flying, with or without their child, are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces — as long as it’s declared for inspection at the security checkpoint. While breast milk, formula or juice may be inspected, mothers and their infant or toddler will never be asked to test or taste these liquids.
4. Liquid restrictions
While many travelers have hoped for an elimination of the liquid restrictions, they remain in effect this holiday season. Popular holiday items — like cranberry sauce, gravy, soups, jams and snow globes — are still prohibited from carry-on if they are larger than 3.4 liquid ounces, and should be packed in your luggage if you want them to make it to your final destination.
5. Continued long lines at security
“As always, hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” said Connie Atkinson, University of Phoenix College of Criminal Justice and Security alumnus and special agent in charge at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “The TSA’s number one priority is traveler safety and security. With the added number of travelers during the holidays, this diligence can lead to longer lines and unexpected holdups — give yourself plenty of time.”