Passengers now allowed to carry tiny toiletries on planes

TSA relaxes ban on liquids in place since August terror plot

S.F. AIRPORT — It’s time for the nation’s travelers to add sandwich bags and tiny toiletries to their carry-on checklists.

The federal Transportation Security Administration announced Monday that it is adjusting its blanket ban on liquids, gels and aerosols, in place since a terrorist plot hinting at the use of these everyday substances was uncovered on Aug. 10.

Each passenger is now allowed to carry toiletries that are in containers holding three ounces or less that can fit in one sealed, quart-sized plastic zip-top bag. Unsealed bags are not allowed.

Passengers are also allowed to purchase beverages in the post-security stores before heading to the aircraft.

The new regulations go into effect at San Francisco International Airport starting at 4 a.m. today, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said at a news conference.

TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley said Monday that his organization determined that small, travel-sized liquids are safe to bring through security checkpoints in limited quantities, as they don’t contain enough material to destroy an airplane.

Necessities such as baby formula, medications and diabetic treatments must be shown to security officers at the checkpoint, but these items will not count toward the passenger’s one bagful of liquid toiletries, McCarron said.

The day the regulations came into effect, passengers had to either dump bottles of wine or, in some cases, finish it before boarding. Wine Wisdom, one such store at SFO, suffered an estimated 90 percent drop in business, employee Yousoff Banglee said.

“We’re very excited,” Banglee said of the regulation change.

Wait times at security checkpoints at SFO dropped significantly after the ban went into effect, shifting long lines to the ticket counters, where more people started checking most of their baggage. It also took longer to load and unload the planes of checked luggage.

McCarron said he expects the security lines to see a slight increase in wait time during the first couple days of the revised regulations, buthe said wait times should go back to the regular five to seven minutes.

McCarron, who demonstrated the proper way to enter security, said the sealed bag of toiletries should be taken out of any carry-on bags and placed on the conveyor belt with shoes and metal objects.

“This allows customer convenience but still ensures passenger safety at the same time,” McCarron said.

Carry-on items

Carry-on items banned and permitted in U.S. airliners under security rules effective today:

» Liquid and gel toiletries in 3-ounce containers or smaller are allowed if they are in a clear plastic, quart-size ziplocked bag.

» Up to 4 ounces of some items are 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.

» Drinks, liquids and gels purchased in airport stores inside the security checkpoints can be carried into passenger cabins.

» Baby formula and medications are allowed but will be inspected.

» Lighters are banned in carry-on bags and in checked luggage, unless they don’t have fuel or are in a case approved by the Transportation Department.

» Laptops, cell phones, pagers and personal data assistants are allowed.