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may 02 2008

A trick for getting toothpaste past airport security?

Is your toothpaste less likely to be detected by TSA screeners if it's Crest? The always entertaining (well, maybe not when he's trying to sell a cruise) David Rowell of The Travel Insider had this to say in his e-newsletter:

I included an email from a reader last week who wrote about never having toothpaste detected in his carry on bag. This caused a flood of other readers to write in and say 'me too' and to list other liquids that they've also repeatedly carried in their carry on bags without declaring, and never getting caught. It also brought an interesting response from someone-who-shall-be-nameless in the industry, who writes:

"Most x-ray systems can NOT pick up toothpaste. Why?…. Because the newer packaging is made of light weight and flexible plastic. The new machines can’t see it.

In days of old, most toothpaste tubes were made with plastic coatings and aluminum. In fact some are still made this way. Colgate is a mixed bag, depending on the product; Crest is best because the smaller tubes are the new packaging. In short, your reader is lucky based on product design changes and most likely the product he selects. To be honest I hate the Crest products, but I carry it on all my business trips. Ahem, with the same result as your readers. Also the ingredients in the toothpaste make a difference as well. Some products are more dense and will always get nailed.

There are other tricks as well with other liquid and gel products…"

[and this is David writing again] Which makes one think there's a different reason why the TSA not only limits the liquids you carry, but demands you take them out of your carry-on and show them separately. Could it be they require you to take them out because, if you don't, they can't see them on the X-ray machine?

[and now it's me again] All I know is that it drives me nuts that toothpaste makers seem to sell toothpaste in everything but a three-ounce container. The so-called travel size barely gets me through a day.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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