At roughly 8 a.m. Thursday (August 10), airport security took another unexpected — and perhaps permanent — change.
That's when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it was raising the terror-threat level and implementing a strict new series of security measures, all stemming from the arrest of 24 people in Britain (see "British Authorities Foil Plot To Bomb U.K.-To-U.S. Flights").
At first, the focus of the new security procedures — focusing on items like hair gel, baby formula and lotion — seemed a bit odd, until Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff confirmed reports that the terror suspects planned to detonate "liquid explosive devices" aboard as many as 10 aircraft. Suddenly, hair-care products became potential weapons.
What does that mean for would-be travelers? Well, longer wait times at security checkpoints, for sure. But in the wake of the Thursday morning developments, what can travelers pack in their carry-on luggage? And what items have suddenly become security no-nos?
"Basically, any liquid substance is no longer being allowed on any aircraft," Ann Davis, spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration, told MTV News. "That includes hair gel, toothpaste, sunscreen — pretty much anything. We are allowing baby formula on the plane, provided there is a baby traveling with the passenger. Basically, if you have doubts about any substance, just put it in your checked luggage."
Davis says that medicine will be allowed in carry-on luggage, but it will be subject to inspection at checkpoints. Also, once travelers pass through security, they are free to buy beverages from kiosks within the airport, but they must finish them before boarding their aircraft.
"We'll be conducting hands-on inspections of all bags at checkpoints and again at the gate before passengers board the aircraft, to make sure no one brings liquids on," she said. "So obviously people should expect longer lines at security. Normally I would tell travelers to arrive at the airport two hours before their flights depart, but now I'd say they should add another hour on to that."
Though Davis would not speculate on just how long these new security procedures might remain in place, she's quick to remind passengers that the measures have all been added to ensure their safety.
"I'd give passengers the same advice I've been giving for five years: Come to the airport prepared for screening, be familiar with what objects are prohibited and pack lightly," she said. "It's important we're all patient and aware of what's happening. We're all taking this day-by-day."
For a comprehensive guide to the TSA's new security measures, go to their Web site, TSA.gov.