Here’s a quiz.

Which of the following are passengers allowed to carry onto a plane?

(A) Napkins

(B) Nitroglycerin

(C) Sawed-off shotguns

The correct answer is (A) Napkins.

But even if you passed that test, there are apparently a lot of other flyers who use Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) who don’t know what they can and can’t take onto planes.  According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at PTIA, last year, passengers at the airport brought 14 guns to the checkpoints and most of those were loaded.

Across North Carolina, 171 guns were confiscated from passengers boarding at airports in 2018.

While everyone should know guns are not allowed in carry on luggage, after that it can get complicated, which is why on Tuesday, March 5, the TSA is putting on display an exhibit of banned items that PTIA passengers have tried to carry on to planes.  That display – which will of course be tailor-made for local TV newscasts – will no doubt draw a lot of media attention to the situation at the airport.  Also, that afternoon, TSA Federal Security Director for Central and Eastern North Carolina Beth Walker is coming in to do TV and print interviews and offer information on exactly what flyers can and can’t take onto planes.

Over the last year, the number of passengers and plane flights have been way up at PTIA and that’s put more pressure on the TSA, which is now trying to find ways to help speed up the lines at the airport.

According to stats released by PTIA this week, in January 2019, when compared with January 2018, the number of passengers at PTIA is up 17 percent while the number of flights is up13 percent.

A higher number of flyers out of PTIA means more people trying to try board with items that the TSA doesn’t approve of.

It is of course not just guns.  Some banned items listed by TSA include…

  • Knives, brass knuckles and stun guns
  • Corrosive, flammable or explosive household chemicals
  • Martial arts tools

Unlike it was in the 1970’s, now even liquids require some thought. The TSA intends to remind PTIA passengers that the “ 3-1-1 rule” still applies to carry-on bags:  “Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1-quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag is permitted per passenger; and the plastic bag must be taken out of your suitcase and placed into a screening bin.  The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring and enables quick screening.  Passengers forgetting this very basic rule slow down the line for everyone else.”

In other words, it might be best just to order your gin and tonic on the plane rather than try to carry it on board with you.

There are also some exceptions to that 3-1-1 rule for things like baby formula and breast milk.  All that will be delved into on Tuesday when the TSA agents try to clear up the public’s misconceptions so they can speed up the lines.

The TSA points out that violations can result in civil penalties of up to $13,000, and they add ominously – “which you face whether or not you are arrested by our law enforcement partners.”