TSA officers are, at least at face value, the demographic most profoundly unaffected by holiday cheer. As a traveler, it’s hard not to feel like these agents exist to make your travel experience as unpleasant as possible. It’s the Friday before Christmas and you didn’t even really want to visit your uncle in the first place, but here you are, standing in the security line being yelled at by a bunch of surly folks in blue. Take your shoes off! Remove laptops from bags! And for god’s sake, take everything out of your pockets!
But can you really blame them for being a bit terse? After all, people try to bring a lot of weird stuff on planes.
There are a few things that the TSA is pretty chill about that might surprise you, though. We’ve compiled a handy list, but don’t recommend arguing about it with that compliance officer who’s at the tail end of an eight-hour shift dealing with annoying travelers. You can always just ask the TSA directly though. Tweet them a picture of your questionable items and they’ll answer you during normal east coast business hours.
You can’t bring box cutters or razors, but the blades on your ice skates are totally fine. Throw those old skates into your bag if you’re going somewhere cold, and try to enjoy the sweet, chilly air on your face as you remember how hard ice skating actually is. The TSA can’t take away that away from you.
Matches & Lighters
Some people would argue that any fire-starting device should perhaps not enter a confined space that will be hurtling through the air for several hours. The folks at the TSA are not those people. You can bring your lighter and your safety matches on board—just don’t put them in your checked luggage. You’ve gotta keep those bad boys in arm’s reach.
That’s right: You can have a service monkey. And you can bring her on a plane. Service monkeys are mostly for people with spinal cord injuries who need an animal more dexterous than a golden retriever, so this one makes a lot of sense. Anyone with that kind of disability has to be allowed to bring their service animal on the plane. Here’s hoping that your holiday flight has a tiny adorable monkey for you to watch instead of whatever terrible movie is available. Just remember to keep your hands to yourself, because that monkey is hard at work.
Screwdrivers, Wrenches, And Pliers
If you think you’ll need to unscrew something mid-flight, or perhaps tighten a bolt, feel free to bring all of these tools on board. Screwdrivers might be long metal objects with fairly pointed ends, but the TSA doesn’t care as long as they’re less than seven inches. These are some of the only tools allowed on board, so leave your axe in your checked bag.
Bring all the breast milk you want on your next flight. It’s not bound by the same 3.4 oz rule that other liquids (including gravy and what the TSA lovingly called “creamy dips and spreads”) are limited by. You don’t even have to separate it into 3.4 oz bottles—just give the TSA a heads up at the security checkpoint that you’re carrying breast milk, and separate it from any other liquids you’re carrying. Your fellow passengers would much rather you carry a liquid than a screaming child.