Traveling with presents OK, but airlines have some restrictions

Posted: Monday, December 08, 2003

As Christmas nears, many holiday travelers will find they've run out of time to ship presents to friends and loved ones, and they'll have to take the gifts with them on the plane.

What are the restrictions? Can a gift such as a hunting weapon be carried on board or does it need to go as checked baggage? Can air travelers bring gift bottles of alcohol with them or is it best to wait and purchase them at the final destination? How many Christmas presents can be carried on the plane?

Airline agents for Era Aviation, Alaska Airlines and Delta provided the following answers and offer some suggestions.

When asked if Christmas presents can be gift wrapped, an Era Aviation reservation agent said it depends on what the item is.

Presents can be wrapped, but if the gift is a weapon, it must be in a hard case, and it may not be gift wrapped.

When traveling with Era, which serves Kenai, Homer, Kodiak, Anchorage, Cordova, Iliamna, Valdez and several Western Alaska villages from Bethel, no alcohol is allowed, either as carry-on or checked baggage, the agent said.

When traveling Outside, different rules apply about alcohol.

A Delta spokesperson said a bottle of wine is OK, as long as the bottle is sealed.

Like other gift items, a bottle of wine or other spirits may be gift wrapped, but if the items are in question when going through the airport security gate X-ray, travelers may be asked to unwrap the gifts.

The advice then is allow extra time for potential extra security inspections.

Delta travelers also may check a rifle or shotgun in the plane's baggage compartment as long as the weapon is unloaded and is in its original packing from the manufacturer.

Any Christmas present such as a bottle of alcohol or a shopping bag filled with gifts will count as a carry-on item with Delta, which allows only one carry-on and one personal item such as a laptop computer, purse, small back pack, briefcase or camera.

Christmas presents may be wrapped whether carried aboard or checked as baggage on Alaska Airlines flights, according to general sales agent Lin Harris.

As with Delta, travelers checking weapons as luggage on Alaska Airlines aircraft will be required to have the unloaded weapons inspected at the ticket counter. They must be unwrapped and properly boxed, Harris said.

Unopened bottles of alcohol are allowed on Alaska Airlines planes, but Harris suggested carefully wrapping the bottles to protect them from breakage.

"The main thing is just use common sense," Harris said.

"Allow enough time for check-in and inspection at the ticket counter and at security."

Specific regulatory requirements for firearms are listed by the Transportation Security Admin-istration of the Department of Homeland Security and apply whether the weapon is for personal use or a Christmas gift:

The firearm must be checked with the air carrier as luggage.

The firearm must be declared orally or in writing in accordance with the air carrier's procedures.

The firearm must be unloaded.

The firearm must be carried in a hard-sided container.

The container must be locked and only the passenger may retain the key or combination.

Other security administration requirements for such gift items as ammunition, bows and arrows, hunting knives, fishing rods and tackle are listed on the agency's Web site at

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