TSA's Rules for Checked Bags

Make sure your checked luggage meets the Transportation Security Administration's guidelines.
Make sure your checked luggage meets the Transportation Security Administration's guidelines. (Image: luggage in hotel room image by Albert Lozano from Fotolia.com)

Air travel is already stressful enough for many passengers without the added hassle of worrying whether or not your luggage will pass the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) checked luggage requirements. Not only must your bags meet certain requirements before you can check them, most airlines are now charging passengers for checked luggage. To ensure that your flight is as stress-free as possible and that your bags are going to make it on your flight, the TSA provides travelers a list of requirements for your checked baggage.

Luggage Locks

While most passengers want to keep their luggage safe when they are not able to keep an eye on it, the TSA wants passengers with checked baggage not to lock their luggage. TSA security agents sometimes require access to luggage, and if your bag is locked, they will cut through your lock to access your luggage. The TSA recommends passengers use TSA-recognized locks from companies that work with the TSA by providing security agents with master keys to unlock your luggage. The two companies that work with the TSA are Safe Skies Luggage Locks and Travel Sentry.

Prohibited Items

The TSA prohibits lighters from being packed in any checked luggage. Other items that the TSA recommends travelers do not pack in their checked luggage are laptops, electronics and camera film. The equipment used by security screening will damage these items and the airport and your airline are not liable for the damage. Guns, sporting equipment and sharp objects are all permitted in checked luggage. Gunpowder and flares are not permitted in your checked baggage. Flammable items and explosives are also prohibited.

Other Information

TSA does not issue requirements for size restrictions for checked baggage. TSA states that size restrictions are issued by each individual airline, though most airlines require that your luggage weigh 50 pounds or less or passengers will have to pay an additional fee to check their luggage. TSA recommends placing luggage tags on all of your checked bags stating your name, address and phone number to identify your bags if they are lost. Avoid overpacking your bags. If a TSA security officer needs to open your luggage and you’ve overpacked, your belongings could fall out of your luggage and become lost.

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