Insider tips to breeze through TSA only pros know

The US Transportation Security Administration is not always looked upon with kindness by weary travelers who have to endure long security lines at airports. But there is another side to the TSA. It is one of the friendliest government agencies you will ever meet on social media. If you have questions about air travel, what can you pack in your checked bag, or if you can keep an orange in your carry-on, ask. The TSA will respond.

How to Talk to the TSA
The TSA has an active presence on popular social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but Twitter and Facebook are the best places to ask questions. The TSA is available every day of the year for your travel questions, but it keeps Twitter and Facebook Messenger from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern on weekends and holidays.

The @AskTSA account on Twitter lets you send text-only questions or include an image. Here’s a quick way to find out if you can pack any unusual items in your carry-on or checked baggage. Simply take a photo and tweet it to @AskTSA.

The TSA recently answered questions about whether you can bring a bouquet of flowers through the security checkpoint (yes, but only without water and you have to put them in a bin or on a belt for X-ray screening) Can you take a drone with you (you can bring it through the checkpoint, but check with your air carrier for specific policies on bringing it on the plane).

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The Ask TSA Facebook page looks pretty bare as the agency will only respond to queries sent through the site’s Messenger service. You cannot leave comments or questions on the page itself. The TSA has earned Facebook’s hard-to-get “usually immediate reply” badge for its fast Messenger responses. Keep reading to find out what happened when we tested it.

If you don’t want to use Facebook or Twitter, you can still contact the TSA the old-fashioned way by calling its customer service hotline at 866-289-9673 during agency hours.

TSA test
The TSA claims, “It’s magical how fast you’ll get an answer.” So how fast is it really? sent TSA a question through the Ask TSA Facebook page using Messenger. “Can I pack my laptop in my checked luggage?” we asked. It only took the TSA two minutes to send a friendly response: “Of course, laptops are allowed in checked bags.”

We sent a follow-up asking if the laptop battery needed to be removed. Again, it took just two minutes to hear back “Battery may be living in a checked bag on your laptop. Spare (uninstalled) lithium batteries should be packed in a carry-on bag.” The TSA rep also sent a handy link to more details. It’s time for a lightning-fast turnaround for both questions.

No matter how serious or how trivial your travel-safety question may seem, the TSA is on hand to answer it, so take advantage of its social media access. Now you don’t have to wonder if you can pack a can of green beans in your checked baggage (the answer is yes).

Updated: December 18, 2021 — 11:33 am

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