The TSA (Transport Security Administration) oversees the security of public transportation services within the United States of America and has a duty to act in the best interests of travelers with regard to their personal safety whilst travelling.
Airport security was stepped up and the TSA was formed within the Aviation and Transportation Security Act in November 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C which resulted in the loss of almost 3000 lives.
When we think of the TSA we tend to automatically think of the long queues, the airport secruity rules and regulations and the TSA officers who check our passports, instruct us to empty our pockets and usher us through metal detectors and other scanners when all we want to do is catch our flight without any hassle. In actual fact, these officers are only a very small part of the TSA as a whole.
There are around 45,000 TSA officers working in airports all over the United States. It is the duty of these officers to screen all domestic and international travelers to maintain the total safety of passengers and airline staff to the best of their ability by ensuring that no prohibited items are taken onboard an aircraft, either concealed inside luggage or on a person's body.
The creation of the TSA led to many more regulations for travelers to follow and much more freedom for airport security staff with regard to passenger's personal space and property. For example, The TSA is given permission to open any baggage (without having to give a reason) without the consent of the owner, and can even destroy locks that they are unable to open with a conventional skeleton key. If this is a concern, consider buying a TSA-approved luggage lock which can be opened without causing any significant damage. If you find that your TSA-approved lock has been damaged or compromised in any way, you will usually be able to claim for the cost of a replacement.
The TSA had rules and regulations in place long before the terror attacks in 2001, but since then the rules have become more detailed and much stricter. Any airline passenger who does not abide by TSA regulations is not permitted to board their flight.
While TSA rules change periodically to reflect the level of security issued by Homeland Security, most of the rules regarding airport security are always the same. One rule that the TSA has in place is the 3-1-1 rule. This rule permits airline passengers to bring liquids aboard any flight provided that they are in the proper container and declared at airport security. TSA requires all liquids being carried onto any domestic or international flight are stored in containers that hold no more than 3.4 ounces. Each of these containers must be stored in a clear, one-quart bag, and each airline passenger can have only one of these bags.
All electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, tablets, PDA's, etc must be in working order and demonstrate they have their own functioning power. The TSA may request that you turn on your device and show proof it is in working order.
In regards to weapons and explosives, many travelers are under the impression that these items are strictly forbidden; this is only partially true. Explosives and gun powder are completely forbidden on any flight, at any time. However, weapons such as guns and knives are permitted aboard flights as long as they are carried in checked luggage. No weapon is permitted in carry-on luggage. Additionally, sports equipment such as baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks and any other sports item can be checked as well. No sports item is permitted as carry-on luggage.
Parents who are traveling with their children are permitted a few extra items by TSA. TSA rules and regulations state that parents travelling with infants and toddlers are permitted to bring baby formula and breast milk aboard any flight without having to adhere to the 3-1-1 rule in place by the TSA. Parents who bring these items on board any flight are required to declare them to airport security, and to allow airport security officials to do a stick test on each to make sure they are what parents state they are.
Any passenger who is required to take medication is permitted to bring their medication on board their flight, even in the liquid form. TSA rules require that passengers in need of medication such as an insulin shot are required bring with them a note from their doctor allowing them to carry their medication onboard their flight. Additionally, passengers with oxygen tanks are also permitted to bring their tanks aboard their flights. They are urged to consider how much air is in their tank, and how longer their flight will last so they have enough oxygen for the duration of their flight.
The TSA is continuing to implement new measures and amend existing procedures to make airport security a quicker and easier process for everyone involved while still maintaining the highest level of safety.