Pilot Program Offers Passengers an Alternative to Tossing Banned Items in Carryon Bags

Officials at O'Hare International Airport are offering passengers an alternative to tossing out precious perfumes and other liquids banned on carryon bags.

In a 60-day pilot program that started Monday, passengers can either mail the items or have them sent for storage to the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport.

Officials hope the new system will placate passengers who in the past have had to part with expensive prohibited items such as makeup, colognes and knives.

"It's a useful option when a person gets irate or doesn't understand the rules," said Scott Stern, a supervisor at a security checkpoint in Terminal 1.

The program, Mail Safe Express, calls for security officers to escort interested passengers to touch-screen kiosks where they can arrange to have their items mailed to an address or sent to the hotel via a bubble-wrap envelope.

It costs $9.99 to have the items shipped to the Hilton.

Liquids can be mailed to a specified address for a flat fee of $14 in the U.S. and $25 internationally. Larger items, such as bottles and cigarette lighters, carry a shipping cost of between $10 and $45. The kiosks only take credit cards.

Officials said the program could be expanded to Midway Airport if it's effective at O'Hare. There were 12 transactions in the system's first two days.

LaGuardia International Airport in New York and Bush International Airport in Houston offer similar programs.

O'Hare security officers have confiscated about 200,000 items a month since the ban on liquids and gels larger than 3 ounces began more than two months ago. Under U.S. Transportation Security Administration rules, liquids, gels and aerosols can only be carried on to flights if they are 3 ounces or smaller and are placed in a 1-quart clear plastic bag with a zip closure.

Officials say the mail system should help lines at security checkpoints move more smoothly and should not require additional officers.