About three years ago, some relatives visited our city and enjoyed their time shopping at our huge international farmers’ market. They racked up on small containers of packaged spices that are hard to find elsewhere, and packed them in their luggage.
After flying back to their home state, they found a note with their bags from the TSA indicating that their spices were given an extra once-over. Unsure if that search included fingertips or tasting of the goods, said relatives threw their haul out. Lesson: they must pass the TSA’s tests.
In the last year or so, they’ve increased their efforts on powder checks for domestic flights. This year, the TSA is making sweeping changes to its policies on powders like dry spices. Travelers coming from foreign countries can expect to go through extra security measures if carrying such items.
Effective June 30, the agency is asking checkpoint agents at international airports to screen powders in carry-on luggage. Currently, the limit for powders is 350 milliliters and can include items like baby powder, baby formula, protein powder, or spices.
If the container is larger than that amount, travelers will be asked to either pack the item in checked baggage or discard it. Those that do meet the size requirement for their carry-on may be asked to place their powder containers in a separate bin for additional screening.
X-ray allows for faster scanning if the contents of a bag are identifiable and can pass. Hand checks are also being used if the X-ray isn’t enough, and that can entail opening your containers. This can cause the lines to slow down, so if you plan on traveling with spices or other powders into the U.S., be prepared.
According to the New York Times, a spokesperson for TSA cites how certain powders like pepper or fentanyl can harm crew and passengers, and that these rules are necessary.
“These measures are part of T.S.A.’s efforts to stay ahead of threats, keep passengers safe and constantly increase capabilities through a layered approach to security.”
“We encourage people to divest certain items – especially organic items – in order to get a clearer view of what’s going on inside the bag. It’s something we advise people to do. We’re asking our foreign partners to do what we’re already doing domestically.”
As criminals get more creative in how they get around security protocols, measures like these are being taken in an attempt to prevent dangerous incidents from occurring. Keep in mind that if you’re carrying a powdered item and TSA can’t verify/identify it, they will more than likely confiscate it or ask you to dispose of it.
Since this is a fairly new rule, it is highly possible that many travelers aren’t aware of it yet and will not find out until they get to the airport. That means slowdowns in the security lines. Unlike liquids, the TSA has not given a separate update on powders on their website. We hope this helps!
Were you aware of the new rules on powder screenings? How will this affect your international travel plans? Are you happy about TSA ramping up their efforts?