Airline travelers carrying aboard potential explosives -- holiday desserts containing more than 3 ounces of liquid -- are being encouraged by Homeland Security officials to find other means of transportation for the goodies.
"These items are permitted but may require further inspection. Keep in mind that many holiday foods like cake and pie have characteristics similar to liquids, gels and aerosols," listed one travel tip released yesterday by the Transportation Security Administration.
"If you are not sure if an item is a liquid, gel or aerosol it is best to pack the item in your checked bag or ship it to your destination in advance," says the travel guide.
Amy Kudwa, a spokeswoman for the TSA, will discuss the holiday travel checklist with reporters at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport today and demonstrate common holiday travel mistakes.
One air marshal said screening holiday pies is a "half-baked idea."
"That's outrageous; people would have gooey pumpkin pie leaking all over their luggage," said one airport security official.
The checklist also suggests that luggage be packed lightly. "If security officials have to open them, closing overstuffed bags can be difficult and may result in that checked bag being delayed until a later flight," the guide says.
"When traveling with children, a discussion in advance of airport security may be helpful. At the checkpoint, children will need to temporarily part with such things as blankets and stuffed animals, and older children need to know that any comment suggesting a threat to an aircraft or its passengers is taken seriously by TSA security officers."
In the fall, a boy and his parents were removed from a plane after the child told a flight attendant that he was carrying a bomb.
In 2003, screeners at Orlando International Airport found a loaded .22-caliber gun stuffed inside a teddy bear that belonged to a 10-year-old boy.
Liquids in any form were banned in August after several terror suspects were taken into custody by British officials and accused of plotting to blow up airplanes headed to the United States. Since then, the ban has been narrowed to allow up to 3 ounces of liquids in carry-on baggage. The liquids must be secured in a clear plastic bag.
"The traveling public quickly incorporated new security procedures on liquids gels and aerosols, which went a long way in ensuring Thanksgiving went very smoothly," said Kip Hawley, TSA administrator. "The end-of-the-year holidays present a new set of challenges, and we're asking the traveling public again to help us and use our holiday checkguide when planning their next trip."
Presents should be transported unwrapped, and fragile items kept in carry-on luggage to prevent damage. The checklist also reminds passengers that they will be asked to remove all coats and shoes when moving through metal detectors.