Air passengers now allowed to pack some liquids in carry-on luggage

Michael McCarron, director of Community Affairs at San Francisco International Airport, holds a bag of liquids and gel products which be allowed through security checkpoints under amended rules, Monday during a news conference at the airport in San Franci Tony Avelar, The Associated Press

Michael McCarron, director of Community Affairs at San Francisco International Airport, holds a bag of liquids and gel products which be allowed through security checkpoints under amended rules, Monday during a news conference at the airport in San Franci Tony Avelar, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Shawna Marsh, a weekly business traveler, likes to pack shampoo and toothpaste in her carry-on bag when she flies, just in case her checked bag gets lost or delayed.

She hasn’t been able to do that for six weeks, since British police foiled an alleged terror plot to blow up airplanes with liquid explosives. On Aug. 10, the Transportation Security Administration banned all liquids, gels and aerosols from passenger cabins.

“It’s a hassle,” said Marsh at Reagan National Airport while waiting for her flight home to Billings, Mont.

Starting Tuesday morning, air travelers may carry liquids and gels in their carry-on bags so long as they’re in containers of 3 ounces or less and packed in one clear, quart-size zip-top bag.

They also will be able to buy drinks or other liquids or gels at shops inside airport security checkpoints and carry them on board under the partially relaxed anti-terror rules.

If a passenger brings a container larger than 3 ounces from outside, it will still have to be put in checked baggage.

TSA chief Kip Hawley said the outright ban is no longer needed.

The FBI and other laboratories tested a variety of explosives and found that tiny amounts of substances _ so small they fit into a quart-size plastic bag _ can’t blow up an airliner, Hawley said at a news conference at Reagan National Airport.

Lisa Cohen, a congressional staff member who flies weekly between Denver and Washington, said the changes should make flying easier.

“I understand the concerns, but it’s been a colossal pain this last several months,” Cohen said as she lugged a large carry-on bag through the airport.

At Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Aubrey Hux wasn’t as happy to hear the news. Just back from a vacation in Thailand, he said, “You can’t have enough security as far as I’m concerned.”

Doug Zink, who traveled to Washington from Denver on business, doubted whether the average passenger would remember that containers have to be 3 ounces or less, that plastic bags have to be one quart or less and that the bags have to have a zip top that’s closed.

“It’s just ridiculous,” Zink said.

Up to 4 ounces of a few items will be permitted in carry-on bags: eye drops, saline solution, nonprescription medicine and personal lubricants.

Larger bottles of liquids and gels from outside – including shampoo, suntan lotion, creams and toothpaste – are allowed only in checked baggage.

The Air Transport Association, which represents major airlines, said the TSA has carefully assessed which items can be brought aboard safely.

“It will reduce passenger inconvenience,” said ATA President James May.

Passengers will have to take out the clear bags with toiletries in them so they can be checked separately by the X-ray machine. Though the machines can’t identify whether a substance is an explosive, they can pick out anomalies that may indicate a substance is intended for use in a bomb.

The TSA is testing new equipment that can detect explosive substances at checkpoints, Hawley said. He said he hopes machines that use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology can be deployed at the nation’s 753 checkpoints located in 452 airports.

He said the TSA has money to pay for such equipment.