New Year…New Security Rules

By | January 3, 2008

2008 is Here, and we’ll only be able to use it as an opening thought for a few more posts. Many exciting things have happened to our luggage in recent weeks. Let’s talk about the security screening process a bit.

TSA’s Organized Suitcase

The picture is from the TSA’s SimpliFLY page. The idea, and certainly better than some other ideas they’ve had, is to encourage people to pack in a way that makes it easier for them to screen your luggage. This is adapted from their list.

  • Pack your bags in layers. First a layer of clothes, then electronics, more clothes, and then any heavier items.
  • Coil any wires and place them separately from electronics. To the TSA screeners, wires hooked up or wrapped around electronics and connected together look like a bomb.
  • Place oversized electronics, ie laptops, DVD players, etc into bins for separate screening.
  • When in doubt, leave it out – If you aren’t sure if it is permitted, check out or don’t bring it. Why tempt fate?

Airport Security, as Patrick Smith(through the Cranky Flier), reminds us, is the last line of defense, after law enforcement. Cranky asks:

“…how is it that something that plays a more minor role in stopping terrorism end up becoming the biggest pain in the ass for millions of people? Well, it’s the most visible form of security out there, so the government feels the need to make it look like they’re doing something useful. The next time something bad happens, they can point to all the changes at the airport as proof that they were actually doing something despite the fact that it makes traveling so much more difficult for everyone.”

We tend to share the viewpoint, and while pundits seem to point this out on a regular basis, it attracts little serious attention. Cranky goes on to advocate risk-based security screening(which you can review in the above link, as it is off our topic for this post).

Most airlines and airports allow you a single carry-on, plus a personal item(a second piece). But for the last year, that has been banned in the UK, limiting you to only one on all UK departing flights. On Monday, January 7th, the rule will be revoked at certain UK airports. It will include London-Heathrow, London-Stansted, London City, Manchester, Aberdeen, Birmingham, Benecula, Cambridge, Cardiff, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Plymouth, Prestwick, Southhampton, Southend, Stornaway, Surnburgh, and Wick. More airports may come later. Congratulations to the United Kingdom for rejoining the rest of the world.

The biggest security news is about batteries. Here in the United States(where we are, at least), there are now restrictions on lithium batteries, due to the possibilities of these items catching fire. Mark Ashley over at Upgrade: Travel Better seems to feel that the biggest problem with the new rules will be uneven enforcement, where we will hear of legal batteries being removed or prohibited ones let onboard.

In a nutshell, the following rules apply to spare batteries you carry with you, not ones installed in a device. You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked luggage. The following quantity limits apply to all batteries inside and outside devices:

  • You can bring batteries with up to 8-gram equivalent lithium content. All cell phone and most laptop batteries are below this.
  • You can bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate lithium content of 25 grams, in addition to any that fall below.
  • For a lithium metal battery, the limit on lithium content is 2 grams per battery. Almost all are.

If you store a battery outside the device, use protective storage. The simplest is a piece of electrical tape over the connectors.

Author: Guru

Guru is the Editor of Flight Wisdom and a long time aviation enthusiast.