TSA travel tip: Packing tips for military personnel

Members of Port Security Unit 312, stationed in San Francisco, Ca., board a plane at San Francisco International Airport to begin the first leg of their deployment to the Middle East, Jan. 5, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Caleb Critchfield.

Members of Port Security Unit 312 board a plane at San Francisco International Airport en route to the Middle East in 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Caleb Critchfield.

Deployments can be stressful on both members and their families. Our friends over at the Transportation Security Administration appreciate the sacrifices our servicemembers and their families make and offer up the following tips on packing for a deployment to make your time at the airport just a little less stressful.

A U.S. Navy sailor goes through a TSA checkpoint at an airport. Photo courtesy of Transportation Safety Administration.

Photo courtesy of the Transportation Safety Administration.

If you’re checking a duffle bag, put all of your clothing and lighter items at the bottom of the bag, and place your boots, helmet, books, and other larger more dense items at the top. This makes it easier for TSA personnel to neatly repack your bag if we have to search it.

If you wish to lock your checked baggage, use a TSA-recognized lock, otherwise the lock could be cut.

If you or your unit is traveling with weapons:

  • The unit must declare weapons and ammunition to the aircraft operator.
  • Weapons must be unloaded.
  • Weapons mus be collectively secured in a crate and banded or individually locked in a hard-sided case.
  • Ammunition must also be securely packed in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
  • You can’t use firearm magazines/clips for packing ammunition unless they completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the exposed portions of the magazine or by securely placing the magazine in a pouch, holder or holster).
  • You may carry the ammunition in the same hard-sided case as the firearm, as long as you pack it as described above.
  • A unit representative must submit the unit’s official travel orders and an inventory of weapons and ammunition being transported.
  • The unit representative must certify to TSA in writing that the weapons are unloaded.

If it looks like a bomb, grenade, land mine, etc., don’t pack it. Even if it’s not the real deal, it will slow the screening process to a grinding halt while TSA is figuring that out.

For more information on military family member gate passes or other benefits available to military personnel, injured service members, veterans and wounded warriors, please visit the TSA website and stay tuned to Coast Guard All Hands for future TSA travel tips.

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