Discuss as:

Q&A: Snow globes at the airport security checkpoint

Courtesy Camille Kohler

Camille Kohler bought this replacement snow globe for her daughter online after the original souvenir was confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration.

During a recent trip to Disneyland, Camille Kohler’s 5-year-old daughter searched for the one souvenir she would buy and bring home with her to Anchorage, Alaska. After three days of consideration, she decided on a small snow globe from the popular It’s a Small World ride.  

For the flight home, Kohler put the snow globe in her carry-on bag. But the water-filled souvenir never made it past the security checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport.

“To their credit, the TSA agents were trying to keep the confiscation on the down-low so my daughter wouldn't see they were taking the snow globe,” said Kohler. “They even looked for a way to empty it. But at that point in the day, I didn't even want to bring it to my girl’s attention, causing a potential melt-down at the security gates.”

Now Kohler wants to know: “Does the TSA have a rule specifically prohibiting snow globes?”

The answer is yes.

“Snow globes of any size are not permitted in carry-on baggage because there is no way for our officers to accurately determine the volume of liquid,” said Transportation Security Administration spokesperson Greg Soule.

If you do want to travel with a souvenir snow globe that, like Kohler’s daughter, you have carefully picked out, the TSA recommends that you put it in your checked luggage or ship it home. Another option is to shop for a souvenir snow globe at a post-security shop in the airport.

Wondering if your vacation souvenir will make it through the security checkpoint? The TSA has a tool on its website to help travelers like Kohler figure out what will and won’t fly. Overhead Bin plugged in “snow globes” and was sent to a “Check only” page that discusses liquids but does not specifically mention snow globes. A holiday-related section of the TSA website, however, does specifically state that snow globes are not permitted in carry-on bags.

And don’t worry too much about that lost It’s a Small World souvenir. Like all Disney movies, this tale has a storybook ending: “I'm happy to report that I was able to find a replacement snow globe on the Disney web site,” said Kohler.

Do you have a travel-related question? Send it to Overhead Bin.

More on Overhead Bin

Find more by Harriet Baskas on Stuck at The Airport.com and follow her on Twitter.