To bring a wrapped gift or not to bring a wrapped gift to the airport?

That is the question, especially during the holidays, when a flurry of travelers head home to be with loved ones. Like Santa, they’ll bear a bag of gifts (maybe a beard), but with the added security measures at the airport, wrapping them becomes questionable. No one wants to see their beautiful wrapping job go to waste when security rips it to shreds, nor do they want to spoil the surprise for the person they’re giving it to.

Unfortunately, there’s no getting around either of those scenarios, unless you ship them beforehand. Otherwise, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends that travelers do not wrap gifts – whether checked in or carried on. TSA security officers may need to unwrap the gifts to inspect the contents further, so wrap them upon arrival.

If the gift happens to be a liquid that’s more than 3.4 ounces (wine, beer, jams, jellies), then travelers must send it through a checked-in luggage. TSA suggests not sending any valuable or expensive gift items through checked-in luggage. This includes electronics, fragile items and jewelry; travelers should carry them on instead.

The good news is that there are ways to avoid spoiling the surprise of the gift. Travlers can wrap them in bubble wrap because it’s see-through but should use rubber bands instead of tape to secure the wrap. This makes it easier to remove if security needs to inspect further.

Another way to get around being a Christmas killjoy would be to wrap the gifts after going through the TSA checkpoint. Gift bags, wrapping paper, boxes, tape and scissors (with blades smaller than four inches) are allowed for both carry-ons and checked luggage. However, if you need to transfer planes, you could find yourself in another holiday hurdle at additional screening checkpoints.

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