TSA: What can go on airplanes?

TSA: What can go on airplanes? 49 CFR Part 1540 By Fred Workley The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued 49 CFR Part 1540 [Federal Register: Feb. 14, 2003 (Vol. 68, No. 31)]. This interpretive rule provides guidance to...


TSA: What can go on airplanes?

49 CFR Part 1540

By Fred Workley

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued 49 CFR Part 1540 [Federal Register: Feb. 14, 2003 (Vol. 68, No. 31)]. This interpretive rule provides guidance to the public on the types of property TSA considers to be weapons, explosives, and incendiaries prohibited in airport sterile areas and in the cabins of aircraft under the TSA regulations. This interpretation also provides guidance on the types of items permitted in sterile areas, the cabins of passenger aircraft, and in passengers' checked baggage. It is effective Feb. 14, 2003.

Previously FAA had a regulation governing the carriage of weapons, explosives, and incendiaries by individuals into sterile areas and into the cabins of passenger aircraft for which screening is conducted. The rule provides, in part, that an individual (other than a law enforcement or other authorized individual) "may not have a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, on or about the individual's person or accessible property:
Section 1540.111(b) establishes certain exceptions to this rule for law enforcement officers and other persons authorized to carry weapons. These exceptions, however, do not apply to the general public.

Accessible property

For purposes of Sec. 1540.111(a), "accessible property" is property that is accessible to the individual at the screening checkpoint, in the sterile area, or in the cabin of the aircraft. It includes carry-on baggage and property an individual carries on his or her person. The interpretative rule provides guidance to the public as to the types of property TSA considers to be "weapons, explosives, and incendiaries" that, if carried by an individual not authorized to carry such items, are prohibited in sterile areas and in the cabins of aircraft under 49 CFR 1540.111(a).

TSA refers to these items collectively as prohibited items because they are prohibited from these areas. There are many items that are not created for use as weapons, explosives, or incendiaries, but may be used as such items.

Today's regulatory interpretation includes examples of these so-called "dual-use items," which also are prohibited. Congress specifically directed TSA to identify dual-use items for purposes of passenger screening. This interpretation also provides guidance on items that are permitted in a sterile area and in the cabin of a passenger aircraft even though they may appear to fall into the broad categories of items on the prohibited items list. These items generally are personal care, medical, and assistive items, examples of which are set forth below. In addition, certain prohibited items may be transported in checked baggage with appropriate safeguards.

TSA previously placed lists of prohibited and permitted items on its web site at www.tsa.gov/trav_consumers/trav_consumers_tip_week.shtm. The interpretive rule also makes some changes in these lists, and TSA's web site will be updated. Neither the prohibited items list nor the permitted items listed in the regulatory interpretation contain all possible items. Screeners have discretion to prohibit an individual from carrying an item into a sterile area or onboard an aircraft if the screener determines that the item is a weapon, explosive, or incendiary, regardless of whether the item is on the prohibited items list.

Moreover, if future information or events demonstrate the need to prohibit items that this interpretive rule has listed as permitted, TSA may prohibit individuals from bringing these items into the sterile area or onboard the aircraft, without first publishing a change to this rule. This is consistent with Congress' direction that screeners be proficient in recognizing new threats and weapons.

The prohibited items list includes items in the following categories: Weapons (guns, sharp objects, club-like objects), explosives, and other dangerous items such as incendiary materials and disabling chemicals. The list contains examples of items in these categories, but it is not an exclusive list.

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