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What you can’t bring through airport security, according to former TSA agent

A former TSA agent has attempted to provide some clarity about what travellers can and cannot bring through airport security.

Caleb Harmon-Marshall, who posts under the TikTok username @travelwiththeharmony, recently took to the platform to explain what he’s learned in the eight years on the job.

Harmon-Marshall also went on to create his own newsletter called “Gate Access,” where he provides tips on getting through airport security to make a person’s overall travel experience easier to navigate.

While working at the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, he said that he heard many of the same questions and repeatedly sorted out the same problems. So, he said, his main objective with his newsletter was to help people know and understand their rights.

“People think that the officers are mean, and they feel like they are prisoners when they go through security,” he said in an interview with Business Insider.

“And I just wanted to let passengers know that this is here for your safety, they’re working for you, they’re not against you.”

He even posts TikToks and writes about specific airlines and their policies, and how they may differ from other airlines. In the interview, he told the outlet that he would spend time reading the terms and conditions of various airlines to give his followers the run-down on the TSA rules.

One of his general tips that he thought travellers should be aware of is that people can bring water or any liquid that breaks the typical 3.4 ounces only rule if they freeze it beforehand.

The TSA website confirms the rule on its website, which reads frozen liquids are allowed, “as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening”.

“If frozen liquid items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 liquids requirements,” the website reads.

Harmon-Marshall has more than one TikTok video on the subject, with hundreds of thousands of combined views because so many people are unaware that this can be done. “If you freeze your water, you can take it past TSA,” he reiterated.

“A lot of people, they’ll get their own bottle, they’ll put their water in there, they’ll freeze it, and then they’ll just thaw out, and they’ll drink it as it thaws out.”

Another common misconception is that food isn’t allowed through the scanner, while in reality travellers are allowed to pack some.

“Why would you spend all your money on airport food?” Harmon-Marshall said. “It’s very expensive to buy anything at the airport. Buy something before you go, take it with you, and you can even take it on the plane and eat it.”

There are also certain rights that passengers can execute, such as opting for their items to be searched by hand if they are more fragile, like camera film. “They’ll just take it and walk it over to the other side, and they’ll check it by hand,” Harmon-Marshall said.

People can also choose not to go through the body scanner if they have a fear of the radiation they are exposed to. The radiation exposure is less than that of two minutes, but Harmon-Marshall said people were entitled not to use it. Instead, travellers can opt for a physical pat-down by a same-sex officer.

“You don’t necessarily have to go through there if you don’t feel comfortable,” he said. “A lot of people feel like the radiation and all that kind of stuff can affect them. Pregnant women, they don’t like going through it.”