by KATHERINE LAGRAVE – October 8, 2018
By now, most of us know that any liquids we bring through security in a carry-on have to follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule. But rules are murkier for items that are trickier to travel with—pies for Thanksgiving, say, or a live lobster. Luckily, getting an answer on what you can bring, when, is as easy as opening up Twitter and firing off a tweet to the TSA’s @AskTSA account, which is staffed by employees with “diverse backgrounds in law enforcement, security operations, training, surface transportation, and customer service,” responding to inquiries from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST every single day.
@AskTSA has been around since 2015, but is often overshadowed by the TSA’s main account, @TSA, which has 315,000 followers compared to @AskTSA’s 41,300, and has been active since 2011. Not only does @AskTSA help travelers identify what they can bring onboard, it also handles all manner of “customer service” inquiries. Scroll @AskTSA’s timeline, for example, and in between questions about pumpkins (allowed through the airport security checkpoint carved or whole), light sabers (allowed in checked bags), burrito bowls (allowed through airport security checkpoints, as long as guacamole, salsa, and sour cream follow the liquids rule), you’ll find complaints from passengers about screenings and wait times, and responses from @AskTSA staff.
The @AskTSA Twitter account has been known to respond within minutes on the same day you send an inquiry, but it’s best not to wait until the last minute, as the account can get backed up. Instead, try sending a direct message right at 9 a.m. at least 72 hours before your flight, and then try again the following day if you haven’t gotten a response. (As of this writing, the TSA press team has not responded to a request for information on average response times, and just how many inquiries they answer a day.) Not on Twitter? No problem: There’s also an AskTSA page on Facebook, where you can get a response from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the weekend. If you’re totally, completely off social media, you can also pick up a phone and call them at 866-289-9673—you know, the old-fashioned way.