Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 20, 2016
Traveling by plane is not nearly as simple as buying a ticket, checking your luggage, and taking your seat. A host of legal systems works to protect your ability to board an airplane and help ensure your luggage gets to the destination written on the baggage claim ticket. However, these systems do not always work as planned, so there are additional protections in place to help you resolve disputes with the airline company. FindLaw's Airline Rules section provides information about the various rules and regulations governing air travel, including security procedures and rules with regard to luggage and carry-on items. In this section, you can find articles about travel scams, the pros and cons of using a travel agent, and the benefits of travel insurance.
Air Travel Security
There have always been security screenings at airports to ensure safe travel. However, ever since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, security measures at airports have increased substantially, including the implementation of new screening procedures and methods. While these increased security measures can provide peace and comfort to travelers, it also means longer security lines. For this reason, it's a good idea to arrive early at the airport, especially when traveling internationally.
There are specific rules as to what can and cannot be brought in a passenger's carry-on and checked baggage. Guns, firearms, self-defense and martial arts items, and most tools can generally not be carried onto a flight. Most of these items can be transported in baggage that is checked in, however, if you have any doubts about your items you should contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Items that can't be checked or carried-on include explosive, flammable, disabling and dangerous materials and chemicals.
There are specific security rules and procedures regarding liquids and gels as well. The short hand rule for the liquid and gels rule is 3-1-1. The number three refers to the fact that the maximum amount of liquid or gel each container can contain is three ounces. As for the two number ones, one refers to the fact that you must fit all of these containers into one clear, plastic quart-sized bag and the other number one signifies that each passenger is only allowed one such bag. The exceptions to this rule are medications, baby food and formula, and breast milk. You must, however, still declare these items to TSA agents and allow them to inspect them.
Frequent Flyer Programs
If a person travels by plane a lot, particularly with the same airline company, it's in his or her best interest to enroll in the airline's frequent flyer program. The benefits of these programs will vary depending on the airline company. Generally, a traveler gets points each time he or she flies, and in return can use the points for various perks related to travel. These perks can be things like free or reduced airline tickets or seat upgrades.
These programs are basically a contract between the passenger and the airline, making them subject to the same set of rules as any contract. However, in practice, airlines pretty much dictate the terms of the program, including stating that the rules of the program can change at any time with limited or no notice. This makes frequent flyer programs more of a bonus than an obligation.
Hiring an Attorney
Generally, airline travel doesn't require the help of an attorney. However, if you feel your rights have been violated, you can contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.
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