5 Ridiculous Things That Can Cause Problems at the Airport

May 21, 2017

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TPG’s favorite Flight Attendant Insider Carrie A. Trey is back, this time with a special warning about several items that may inadvertently cause you stress if you try to fly with them.

Travel is hectic enough these days. Security lines the world over are longer than ever, and people’s tempers have gotten proportionately shorter. Basically, you want to do whatever you can to keep everyone’s stress level as low as possible. So before you head out on your next trip with a guaranteed headache in your luggage, it’s best to be aware of what can get you in trouble. Here’s a list of five things you could be carrying in your luggage that you probably didn’t even realize would cause you problems at the airport — or on the airplane.

1. Alternative Liquids

At this point, we’re all well-versed in keeping our liquids to a bare minimum when it comes to carry-on items. The French, however, have their own definition of what is considered to be a liquid, which includes liquids, creams and pastes — and it’s that last one that’ll get you. Soft cheeses fall into this category (Camembert, brie, etc), as do butter, foie gras and even cookie dough. Think you’re going to bring home some tasty cheese or foie gras as a gift? Think again! This isn’t just a French thing either. We’ve once had a jar of neon-green relish confiscated at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) because the officer decided it, too, was classified as a paste.

This may not make it onto the airplane. Image courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography via Getty Images.
This tasty cheese may not make it onto the airplane. Image courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography via Getty Images.

2. Your Own Booze

As much as I know you’d like to consume the beer you bought in the airport or enjoy that mini-bottle of Champagne with your gourmet meal in economy, this is not simply not allowed, it’s actually illegal. Regulations in most countries prohibit passengers from consuming their own alcohol on an aircraft. Why? No, it’s not so that you have to buy it from us — most airlines will give it to you for free anyway. The rule is in place so that we (your crew) know how much you’ve had to drink. If you start misbehaving on board because we’ve served you 17 drinks in the last two hours, that’s our bad and we’ll deal with it accordingly. But if you start kicking off and we’ve only given you one, there’s probably something else going on. Bottom line, don’t drink your own stuff on the plane. It won’t be handled as seriously as smoking is, but it can certainly escalate to that level should the crew choose to do so, given that the laws are in fact on the books.

Unless the flight attendant is the one who gave her that champagne, this woman is probably committing a crime. Image courtesy of Westend61 via Getty Images.
Unless the flight attendant is the one who gave her that champagne, this woman is probably committing a crime. Image courtesy of Westend61 via Getty Images.

3. Plastic Bags

We use them for everything and they’re particularly handy when packing — whether you’re wrapping up shoes or keeping liquids from leaking, you’d be hard pressed to find a suitcase without a plastic bag in it somewhere. But if you’re flying into Rwanda, make sure you get rid of them! Rwanda was the first country in the world to place a ban on plastic-bag use and all passenger luggage is now thoroughly searched upon arrival. The country forbade shopkeepers from giving them out in 2004, and enacted the total ban in 2008 for environmental reasons. Several other countries around the world have since followed suit. When traveling to a country with a plastic bags ban, make sure you pack accordingly to avoid delays at customs when you arrive. No plastic, no problem!

These unassuming plastic bags are forbidden for you to bring into more and more countries. Image courtesy of Alex Bramwell via Getty Images.
These unassuming plastic bags are forbidden to bring into more and more countries. Image courtesy of Alex Bramwell via Getty Images.

4. Certain Magazines

So you’re at the airport and you’re stocking up on reading material for the flight, or maybe you’ve brought along your favorite gossip and fashion rags with you to catch up on. Well, let’s just hope you’re not heading somewhere like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Brunei. Customs agents in culturally conservative countries have a nose for the sorts of things that they hold to be morally offensive and your expensive reading material will not be spared. If your stuff doesn’t go straight into the bin, they’ll go through with scissors and/or a black marker and cut or ink out the bits they feel are inappropriate. This actually happened to me in Riyadh once and my Vogue and GQ were decimated by the time they finished — the worst part was the customs agents genuinely seemed to enjoy what they were doing. So leave your Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition at home next time you’re heading somewhere on the conservative side.

Don’t expect this magazine to make it into certain countries. Image courtesy of Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images.

5. Emotional-Support Animals

This last one has really become an issue, particularly in the United States. It seems that nowadays, just about everyone who doesn’t already have a peanut and/or gluten allergy requires a pet to keep them calm when they travel. They’ll pay $20 to a doctor with loose ethical standards to write a note saying that they need the animal for “emotional support” while traveling in an effort to avoid paying the fees to bring Fluffy on board or check Muffy in the cargo hold. Well, guess what: If Fluffy and Muffy aren’t well behaved, they may well get you kicked off the flight.

The worst part is that people who get false paperwork saying their pets are service animals make it harder for people who genuinely need to bring them. Service animals are highly trained, well-behaved animals that help individuals with real problems and a wide range of disabilities, and we welcome them wholeheartedly. That said, when a passenger gets on with a “service” animal that’s poorly behaved or clearly too distracted or old to provide the service they are documented for, then we know something is up and will take action.

We love service animals, we really do. But don
We love service animals, we really do. But don’t fake it. Image courtesy of Richard Atrero de Guzman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

What ridiculous things have held you up at an airport? Share your stories with us, below. 

Featured image courtesy of Andia/UIG via Getty Images.

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