You can submit travel questions to the TSA

While the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides a comprehensive list of items that are good for flying on its website And countless web pages that display detailed information on topics such as what is called acceptable identification How to apply for the Express Screening Program TSA pre-screeningEvery now and then you may come across a travel-related question that you can’t find an answer to.

Behind – to the other side E-mailor call (855-787-2227) or tweet at AskTSA Twitter account, another lesser-known option available to travelers is to simply send a text message to TSA. Here’s how to text the agency and why you might want to.

How does the TSA text messaging service work?

To start a conversation, text “travel” to the AskTSA number (275-872). You’ll get a message explaining that automated responses are available 24/7, although for questions the algorithm can’t answer, the live staff is on the line from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. From there, users can choose from six themes:

  • TSA pre-screening
  • What is allowed
  • identification
  • Medical questions
  • Damages / Claims
  • else

Once you choose a topic, the following text from the TSA will offer subcategories to choose from; For example, after determining damages/claims, the next round of options includes claim status, damaged locks, damaged property, and how to file claims. It will keep getting more subcategories until the service thinks it has answered your question, at which point it will ask you the following text, “Did we manage to answer your question? You could say: yes, no.” If you answered “no,” it will read the following text “,” Please write your query here, a Social Care Professional will be in touch with you shortly. If the line is operating during business hours, the TSA employee will respond when he or she is able (we tested the service and the average response time was about 10 minutes). You will have to ask again later if it is outside office hours. However, after selecting Medical Questions, the subcategories displayed are Screening Assistance, Medications, CPAP, and others. Any option there will be catered for with the appropriate department number to call, such as the TSA Passenger Support Specialists department.

Why travelers might want to text the TSA

Given how broad the “what’s allowed” category is (and also what was previously asked on AskTSA Twitter), it’s safe to assume that what’s allowed in carry-on baggage is one of the most frequently asked questions. Some of the forbidden items that might surprise even the most experienced traveler include snowballs and magic 8 balls (because they contain a lot of liquid) or cast iron skillets and tent pegs (because they can be used as weapons).

While offering travelers another means of determining whether they can bring cheese in their carry-on baggage (the answer is yes, if it’s hard cheese, and a maximum of 3.4 ounces if it’s cream cheese) or fireworks (that can’t fly, period), the script can be a bit heavy. Responses can take several minutes if too many people are using the service at one time, and the answers are often not as detailed as what you find online.

Some questions got satisfactory answers (like the rules for milk, which is fine under 3.4 ounces, and ice, provided it’s solid, otherwise it needs to follow the 3.4 ounce rule), while others fell flat (foam swords, for example, Not allowed as portable items, but no explanation why).

In some cases, it may be faster to search online for answers to questions travelers may have. However, if you think of something that doesn’t provide an adequate Google answer or needs additional context (like why bowling balls are allowed as portable items, but bowling pins are not), you can get to a real person relatively quickly (at least during business hours) It can make your travels smoother. Or at the very least, it can save you wasting time (and possibly embarrassment) having to drag your bag for an extra check.

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