ATLANTA – Travelers showed up at airports with toiletries stored in zip-top plastic bags Tuesday as they tried to comply with new security rules allowing them to carry on small amounts of liquids and gels.
Beginning Tuesday, liquid and gel toiletries in 3-ounce containers or smaller are allowed if they are in a clear plastic, quart-size ziplocked bag. Some items were permitted in any amount: saline solution, eye drops and prescription and non-prescription medicine, according to Transportation Security Administration spokesman Christopher White.
Drinks, liquids and gels purchased in airport stores inside security checkpoints can be carried into passenger cabins, while baby formula is allowed but will be inspected.
TSA's Jim Smith said most passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport came prepared and brought toiletries in plastic bags. But others first learned of the relaxed guidelines only after arriving and scrambled to throw away larger items or find plastic bags for toiletries.
At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Ginni and Edward Dewbray were stopped at the security line and told if they wanted to bring a small bottle of Oil of Olay lotion onto their flight to North Carolina, they would have to put it in a clear plastic bag. Edward Dewbray asked several other travelers for a bag and eventually found one.
"It's an inconvenience," Ginni Dewbray said. "If they're going to stand there and ask you to have plastic bags, they should give them out. They're not that expensive."
In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the new rules "are likely to be with us for the foreseeable future." Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Chertoff said the new rules would be in place for at least six weeks, but he declined to say whether they would remain as long as six months.
Pat Henderson, of Palm Coast, Florida, was among those who did not want to bother with the new guidelines, throwing away the deodorant and toothpaste in his carry-on before entering the security check line at the Atlanta airport.
"It's not worth the hassle," he said. "I just don't want to deal with it."
By 8 a.m. (1200 GMT), a trash bin at a TSA checkpoint in Atlanta was three feet deep with discarded water bottles and 16-ounce bottles of toiletries, including shaving gel and hand lotion.
The new guidelines require items to be stored in bags quart-sized or smaller, but TSA officials in Atlanta allowed passengers to board planes with items stored in one-gallon bags since Tuesday was the first day the new rules were being enforced.
If a passenger brings a container larger than 3 ounces, it still must be put in checked baggage.
The outright ban on liquids, lotions and gels, ordered Aug. 10 after an alleged plot to bomb U.S.-bound jetliners was foiled, is no longer needed, TSA chief Kip Hawley said Monday.
After testing a variety of explosives, the FBI and other laboratories found that tiny amounts of substances — so small they fit into a quart-size plastic bag — cannot blow up an airliner.
Chase Goodwin, 56, of Los Angeles, chugged liquid ginseng, which he drinks for health reasons, from a small bottle before going through security in Chicago.
"The way the world is going you can only be so careful. It's a hindrance to some, but it doesn't bother me," he said of the security rules.