American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
A Word About the TSA's No-No List
As I mentioned in yesterday's post about airport security, I love hearing from readers – no matter if they're sending me suggestions for my guidebooks, questions regarding future trips, comments about my articles and blog posts, or additional travel tips. So, imagine my delight when, after sharing a reader's helpful advice about protecting one's belongings from the trials of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), I found another intriguing email in my inbox.
A reader named Susan had written me about my recent review of SCOTTEVEST's Penny Coat. After reading the rather thorough (admittedly glowing) rundown, she said, “I am very tempted to get it for an upcoming trip to Italy. I already own a couple of SCOTTEVEST vests, but think that the Penny Coat would allow me to 'go carry-on' even though I'll be gone three weeks.”
In response, I told her that I absolutely adore the figure-flattering Penny Coat and that, as a resident of the French Quarter, I really appreciate all the hidden pockets – which makes it possible for me to walk around without having to carry an easy-to-swipe purse. Given its 14 well-placed pockets, I admitted to her that, with the coat, it just might be possible to travel without a carry-on – although a three-week trip to Italy wouldn’t be without its challenges. Naturally, I told her that I would love to know how it went if she ultimately did decide to get the coat for the trip.
But that wasn't the only reason that Susan had contacted me. She also had a question that I thought was worth sharing with my fellow travelers:
How do you get a multi-tool Leatherman past security? Don't we have to put our jackets/coats on the security conveyor?
As you may recall from a previous post about Spring Break travel, I had to deal with this very issue on my recent trip to Montana. While packing for the trip, I made sure to check the TSA's online guidelines, so I knew that, since I would be traveling with a coat and two carry-ons and wouldn't be checking any of my baggage, I couldn't bring my beloved Leatherman with me to Yellowstone National Park – where, I must admit, it would have been very useful. Incidentally, I was allowed to carry a disposable razor on-board.
Unfortunately, I had to advise Susan not to bring her multi-tool Leatherman to Italy. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you’re carrying the Leatherman through security or leaving it in your coat on the conveyor belt – either way, such multi-tool devices (mainly because of the pocket knife feature) are not allowed in the passenger compartment of any plane. Sadly, I remember a time, pre-9/11, when I could carry my Leatherman on-board, but alas, those freewheelin' days are gone.
The only solution that I could offer her was to ship the Leatherman to her destination, but that might cost more than most travelers are willing to spend. Still, her question did compel me to take another look at the TSA's online traveler information, where you'll find everything from guidelines regarding liquids in carry-ons to a list of prohibited items, which include a lot of no-no's for carry-on baggage, such as utility knives and self-defense sprays. Some items, though, aren't allowed on checked baggage either, such as flares and lighter fluid.
While poring over these pages, I discovered a very handy tool – the free My TSA mobile app – which offers airline passengers round-the-clock access to the most frequently requested information regarding airport security. Through this helpful app, which is available for both iPhone as well as Android users, you can see which airports are experiencing general delays, search for conditions at a specific airport, share security checkpoint wait times, and check if items are permitted or prohibited and whether they can be packed in carry-on or checked baggage. In addition, you can access specific travel guidelines, such as tips for traveling with children, advice for packing gels and aerosols, and how to dress so as to speed through security. As a bonus, you can provide feedback to the TSA and submit items for consideration that might be missing from the current database.
So, needless to say, I promptly downloaded the app to my iPhone, accessed the “Can I Bring?” database, and punched in “Leatherman tool” – which prompted the following results:
In general, you are prohibited from traveling with sharp objects in your carry-on baggage; please pack these items in your checked baggage. Scissors smaller than 4 inches, small needles carried for special medical needs, and other sharp objects that do not contain a blade may be placed in carry-on baggage.
Any sharp objects placed in carry-on or checked baggage should be properly sheathed or securely wrapped to prevent injury to TSOs and baggage handlers.
Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with, or poses other security concerns. The final decision rests with TSA on whether to allow any items on the plane.
So, whether or not you download the app, it pays to do your homework – and look up the TSA's guidelines before boarding a flight. Knowing the current rules can, after all, save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation – which is rarely a bad thing.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport / Text © 2013 Laura Martone