Each holiday season, the TSA prepares its workforce of 50,000 transportation security officers to provide a smooth experience for holiday travelers. Since this is the busiest travel time of the year, the TSA is reminding passengers of the security procedures in place, so you know what to expect before leaving home.

Children: The TSA has implemented new procedures for passengers age 12 and under. Pat-downs will be reduced, although not eliminated, to resolve parental alarm without sacrificing effective security. Children are also permitted to leave their shoes on at security checkpoints.

Liquids: Families or individuals traveling with medically necessary liquids can use Family Lanes for a more pleasant travel experience. There are Family Lanes at every security checkpoint, allowing families and travelers with special needs to go through security at their own pace. Individuals carrying medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in excess of three ounces will also be directed to these lanes.

Food: Everyone either wants to bring a favorite food to their holiday dinners, or leftovers or other items they’d like to bring back home with them. Travelers should know that while pies are permitted through security checkpoints, the following list of liquids must be checked, shipped, or left at home:

  • Cranberry sauce
  • Creamy dips and spreads (cheese, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Gift baskets containing liquid food items
  • Gravy
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Maple syrup
  • Oils and vinegars
  • Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Wine, liquor, and beer

The Transportation Security Administration’s “My TSA” iPhone app, which you can download for free through iTunes, provides real-time operating status updates for U.S. airports from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing you to check approximate wait times at security checkpoints, flight delays, and weather conditions. You can also share your wait times with others, and provide immediate feedback to the TSA concerning your checkpoint experience. It includes a tool to quickly confirm whether an item is allowed in carry-on or checked baggage, plus information about ID requirements, restrictions on liquids, and tips for packing and dressing to speed up the process of going through security checkpoints.

Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, and he is running the Boston Marathon in April 2012 to support Miles for Miracles for Children’s Hospital Boston.

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