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TSA- Air Travel in the USA with Contact Solution

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Last summer, I got into a brief chat with some of you about taking my contact solution (larger than 3 oz) in a carry-on bag. Upon studying the TSA links you all shared, I was eager to try bringing my products on a future trip, because I hadn't been able to easily find them in the smaller shops by my hotels last summer and ended up stuck with my glasses.

Our trip was last week and we went to Houston for a few days, flying only with small carry-on suitcases, and now I'm posting back.

For those who want the punchline right away:
You both CAN and CAN'T take these products on flights in your carry-on bags. It all depends on who the TSA officer is (or perhaps who the commanding TSA officer is at the airport in question).

First, I should explain that I use Simply Saline. The problem is, it's an aerosol. (Because it's under pressure, no air can get in and no preservatives are needed; hence I don't get rashes on my eyelids and skin.)

I brought my Simply Saline and also my Clear Care contact cleaner, and included it in the same clear bag which I showed to the pre-screener at PDX.

The PDX lady at first said they weren't allowed but I told her they were for contacts and explained that I thought they fell under a medical rule. She then said "oh, that's okay then, I didn't realize what it was." And she even added "It's hard to find contact supplies in 3 oz."

The bag went through the line and to an officer. He was pretty courteous. Explained he would test both bottles, and that I was not to touch anything during the process unless he specifically asked me to. He wore gloves--fresh ones as needed. With the ClearCare, he told me that anything with hydrogen peroxide was not allowed on flights in the USA. I could choose to contest it, but I would probably lose and would get a pat-down search as part of the process. I declined.

He then had me remove the lid on the Saline, and he tested it on a small strip of paper. He never touched the liquid, btw. If it wasn't a Ph test, it worked very similarly. He said the Saline Solution passed and he gave it back to me.

Flying back from Houston, I again set my Simply Saline (the ClearCare being long gone) aside in its clear bag, and the first officer, who had a strong accent, told me that it was more than 3 oz. I explained to him the same things as before, that it was medical and I expected that it would be set aside and tested. He gave me an absolutely blank look--I don't know if he didn't understand me or what--and sent it through the Xray machine in its clear bag. A second officer approached me and told me that he absolutely could not approve the Simply Saline. I explained how it had worked in Portland.

He said he didn't have the facilities to test products (although I saw some little vials and things sitting there similar to PDX). He also told me that the PDX TSA officers were wrong, breaking the rules to do what they did. He told me that I could choose to contest it, but that I would likely lose and be subject to a pat-down search. I did ask why I needed a pat-down if I had already given him the bottle? He said "Because it is in your property." I told him "Fine, throw it away." And he said "You are welcome to contest it." I said "I don't want a pat down. Just throw it away." And so he threw it away.

So there you have it: Allowed to fly from Portland with Simply Saline and Not Allowed to fly from Houston with the same product.



The thread I referenced:

http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/flying-with-carry-on-vs-checked-bags.cfm#comment-7787885

TSA Rules on Medically necessary Liquids
http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/medically-necessary-liquids

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