RICHMOND, Va. -- If you're traveling for spring break, make sure you pack your bags carefully. The wrong item could have you paying a fine, or even facing jail time.
Richmond International Airport (RIC) said they’re seeing a rise in travelers, and expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels soon. With that, they're already seeing an increase in the number of prohibited items brought through TSA checkpoints.
In just a few hours, TSA agents confiscated dozens of items Wednesday morning. The most common items were over-sized liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on luggage.
"Remember the 3-1-1 rule," said TSA spokeswoman, Lisa Farbstein.
Liquid, gel or aerosol containers need to be 3.4 ounces or less, and they need to fit in one quart-sized bag. One bag is allowed per person. Any items larger than this need to be put in a checked bag.
The rise in the number of prohibited items brought through checkpoints also include firearms.
Last year alone, TSA agents confiscated nearly 6,000 guns nationwide. So far this year, TSA agents at RIC have found four firearms in carry-on bags.
"The number one excuse they tell us they forgot that they had their gun," Farbstein explained. "Last year 86 percent of the guns they had were loaded, so people are telling us they forgot they had a loaded gun with them. Interestingly enough, they seem to know where their wallet is, keys are, and cell phone is. Nobody leaves home without that cellphone, but apparently people are leaving home with loaded guns and forgetting. I can tell you that does not fly."
You are allowed to fly with a gun if it’s taken to the airline counter in a hard case with a lock and you fill out necessary paperwork to ensure the gun isn’t loaded and is put in the checked bag under the plane.
TSA wants to make sure you understand all of these rules before you get to the airport because it impacts wait times and whether or not someone else in line makes their flight.
"With having to do bag openings, it slows down the process by 100 to 200 percent," said Chuck Burke, TSA Federal Security Director for RIC. "In essence, if I can get someone through the screening once they hit that document check and they get through the screening process, it takes three to four minutes. If they have this kind of stuff, it’s eight to 10 minutes per person per bag, so it slows down the process."
RIC officials also want to remind you to arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight.
"Don’t expect the airport to be empty like you may have seen during the pandemic," said Farbstein.
If you have questions about what you can or can’t bring on your flight, you can visit the TSA website or download the MyTSA app on your phone, where you can directly search whether an item is allowed.