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Can I Legally Take a Ziploc Bag on a Plane as My Carry-On?

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  1. rAVENSFAN99

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 17:54:18
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    The short version: I am going on a trip. I'll be gone only three days and am staying with a friend who has a washer/dryer. I feel I can fit everything I'm taking in a large Ziploc bag. Will this be permitted on the plane? I'm not embarrassed about how it looks.

    Longer version: I am going on my first plane trip since my bed bug encounter. I am (hopefully) 8 months removed from my infestation, living in a different apartment. For those of you who don't memorize every aspect of every poster's profile, I lived in an apartment that was badly infested for 5 months before breaking my lease and leaving.

    I have severe OCD and admit that I am not always rational about things. My mother bought me a suitcase for the holidays and I freaked out and had her take it back. I don't want to bring it into my apartment after it's been on a plane, and I don't have a garage where I can store it. I have been unable to find a carry-on that is machine washable. This seems like the easiest solution in terms of not triggering an OCD clean-a-thon meltdown when I get home.

    Thanks.

  2. AshamedandScratching

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 17:58:39
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    Call the TSA and your airline. They'll tell you if there are any policies againts it. However, they can't promise anything regarding the gate agent.

    What about a canvas bag to hold your ziplock? LL Bean and Lands End make them and I've used them as carry ons. They are highly washable.

    (And Sears sells Lands End now, so I picked my tote up for about $13.)

  3. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 18:04:14
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    And gocery and some other stores sell cloth bags for about a buck. pb

  4. iamscared

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 18:12:05
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    There are no regulations against carryon bags as long as it is within the dimensions and weight set out by the airline or airport authority. You should be fine taking the zip loc bag - legally.

    But just check with the airport just in case, as I am not sure about American airport procedures.

  5. rAVENSFAN99

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 18:17:53
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    P Bello - 12 minutes ago  » 
    And gocery and some other stores sell cloth bags for about a buck. pb

    I'll be taking a *little* more than can fit in one of those bags, but I did consider buying a cheap overnight bag and then just throwing it out. And as for Land's End and L.L. Bean, they put a coating onto their canvas bags that aren't dryer-safe. I was tempted to buy one anyway; I don't care about the coating wearing away, but I decided against it.

  6. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 18:20:46
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    Call the TSA and your airline. They'll tell you if there are any policies againts it.

    That would seem like sound advice. However, I fly a lot. (When I say a lot, I mean I've already logged over 400,000 lifetime miles on one airline--and that's only since I joined their frequent flyer program. If you add up all the miles before that point--and on other airlines, it's a lot.)

    My experience has been that you can call the airline and ask every question you can think of. You can read every single part of the TSA website.

    Inevitably, when you show up to the airport, there will be something that they haven't covered.

    Two examples: I once flew with my cat. I asked every question I could think of. Despite also asking them whether there was anything else they thought I ought to know, they didn't tell me that the cat's carrier would need to go through the x-ray machine, but the cat would have to walk through the metal detector with me. (This was pre 9/11 when airport security in the US hadn't quite reached the heights of insanity that are currently in place.) If they'd told me in advance, I could have had a harness and a leash on her. But nobody thought to tell me that.

    I've also had conflicting info from gate and counter agents about whether a carry on would be allowed or not--sometimes as late as walking down the jetbridge to the plane and having to gate check a bag (Which never ends well, unless it's a regional jet so small that they routinely valet check bags).

    Then there was the time they called and told me that my 12:30 am departure was delayed until 1:45 am, and when I showed up at the airport at 12:45 am, they told me that I'd missed the checked bag close out time--because the plane was, duh, leaving at 1:10 am. I wasn't flying direct and was on a tiny regional jet from JFK to Logan, and my bags didn't show up for 3 days. The airline never found them--they never showed up in the system (see earlier point about gate checking bags). The only reason I got them back was that I drove my ass back to Logan every friggin' day and walked the bag farm until I found my bags.

    Not that I'm still bitter.

    And once you're at the airport, if someone--TSA, gate agent, counter agent, you name it--decides that they aren't okay with it--you're kind of screwed in terms of dealing with your things. I mean, most airports do have places where you can buy luggage, but they're past the security checkpoint. And I really wouldn't want to try to get my stuff through security in a ripped/popped open ziplock if something goes wrong or the TSA decides to go on a petty tyranny kick--which experience suggests they are prone to doing. And that's to say nothing of how overpriced the suitcases or bags in an airport will be.

    (We will not speak of the $2.99 I paid for a 12 ounce bottle of sparkling water at SFO, when I routinely get a 1.25 liter bottle of the same brand for under a buck at my Trader Joe's. If there's that kind of mark up on water, I shudder to think what they do to luggage. Airport retailers know they have a captive audience, and their custom has dropped off post 9/11 for a number of reasons.

    Also, having worked with a lot of those large ziplocks, I wouldn't trust my stuff to be secure in them--esp. given how other people handle their carry ons while shoving them into overhead bins.

    Because of all that, I'm offering a variation on AshamedandScratching's suggestion: get a soft-sided, washable duffle bag. Something like this seems inexpensive and practical. You might need a smaller one, but you could always get two small ones. You could keep a bag or two inside it, but in the event that things have to be checked, you won't run the risk of your stuff bursting out of the ziplock. If you do carry on, the bag won't get popped open or ripped by the Bin Tetris common on today's overbooked flights.

    I had a friend who came from the east coast to the west coast for a concert; her suitcase gave up the ghost sometime prior to its arrival on the luggage carousel at San Jose. Trust me; you may not be embarrassed by having your stuff in a ziplock, but I don't know anyone who wants their belongings strewn about a public place in an airport. If you're this anxious about bed bug exposure, if the bag rips or tears or pops open, you're going to be just as stressed out as you would be about a suitcase.

    Get yourself a cheap duffle bag or two. If washing and drying isn't good enough, then if they're cheap, you haven't ruined that much money. If money is no object, I'm a big fan of the Eagle Creek brand bags at REI, but I can't speak to how they hold up in washing and drying on high heat since I don't wash and dry mine.

    Unfortunately, the TSA have been given duties and power that whatever's legal matters less than what they decide in a particular situation. If they veto the ziplock at the checkpoint, you don't have very many options. Given the very low chance of infestation from taking a bag with you and the very high chance of the TSA freaking out at anything out of the ordinary, I personally would never try to get on a plane with a ziplock as my only luggage.

  7. AshamedandScratching

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 18:31:57
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    Honestly, as a knitter, I still have agents with a problem with my tools and they've been off the banned list for quite a while. That is why I say ask. Sometimes knowing the policy (not quoting it) can be helpful if you need to plead your case.

  8. AshamedandScratching

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 18:37:47
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    rAVENSFAN99 - 17 minutes ago  » 
    I'll be taking a *little* more than can fit in one of those bags, but I did consider buying a cheap overnight bag and then just throwing it out. And as for Land's End and L.L. Bean, they put a coating onto their canvas bags that aren't dryer-safe. I was tempted to buy one anyway; I don't care about the coating wearing away, but I decided against it.

    If memory serves, it's just the waterproofing they put on sail cloth. It makes the bag a bit stiffer, too. It shouldn't compromise anything else about the bag if you were to wash it. (I've washed mine a few times.) Sailcloth or heavy canvas is pretty strong on its own. I used on as my carryon this Christmas on an AA flight, which is why I thought of it.

  9. rAVENSFAN99

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 19:00:41
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    buggyinsocal - 36 minutes ago  » 
    [quote]
    My experience has been that you can call the airline and ask every question you can think of. You can read every single part of the TSA website.
    Inevitably, when you show up to the airport, there will be something that they haven't covered.
    And once you're at the airport, if someone--TSA, gate agent, counter agent, you name it--decides that they aren't okay with it--you're kind of screwed in terms of dealing with your things. [/blockquote]

    True.
    And a Ziploc filled with a few days' worth of clothing will almost definitely pop open.
    I'll probably go the "buy a cheap overnight bag and toss it out" route.
    Thanks for making me think a little more rationally.

  10. punaisedelit

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 19:49:36
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    There are pretty roomy canvas bags available out there; you can check on etsy and even find some that are cute. I have been traveling with Ziploc INSIDE bags and suitcases without a problem. TSA agents even closed the ziplocs back very carefully after I told them I was "scared of bed bugs".

    I'm sure you can find a roomy bag that's washable, then you can just tuck the ziploc(s) in and you're good to go!

  11. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 19:52:08
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    Hi,

    I think the cheap duffel bag both ways will do the trick.

    I had a one day trip and did that. I put the ziploc in the cheap duffel bag. There wasn't much space on the plane and I was carrying a cheap little laptop carrier and the duffel bag. The flight attendants said the bins were full and took the duffel bag from me. I pulled out the smaller ziploc with my clothese for the next day (underwear was tucked in and not seen...thank goodness) out and put it under the seat with my laptop. They lost my bag and delivered it the next day after I had left the meeting. I was glad to at least have the clothes. A lot of people asked about where to get the ziplocs (including the flight crew).

    Everyone's right about you can't figure out the TSA/flight attendants. I ask a ton of questions and get surprised each time.

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  12. rAVENSFAN99

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Jan 4 2012 23:53:52
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    Thanks all. I bought a cheap overnight/carry on from KMART. I do not plan to put my clothing in Ziplocs as I'll be moving them straight from the bag to the washing machine at the laundromat, along with the bag, when I get home.

  13. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Jan 5 2012 0:12:52
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    Sounds like a good plan! It's always nice to have this website as a sounding board.

    I'm a newbie but there are a lot of people who have great advice.

  14. solongbb

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Jan 5 2012 17:44:59
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    rAVENSFAN99 - 23 hours ago  » 
    I feel I can fit everything I'm taking in a large Ziploc bag. Will this be permitted on the plane? I'm not embarrassed about how it looks.

    Of course you can. Why wouldn't you be able to? The only rule is the size rule, but most airlines don't even bother to enforce that. Plenty of people use plastic shopping bags as their carry on luggage. The TSA would probably be happy that they can see all your stuff through the ziplock.

  15. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Jan 5 2012 18:53:45
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    solongbb - 1 hour ago  » 

    rAVENSFAN99 - 23 hours ago  » 
    I feel I can fit everything I'm taking in a large Ziploc bag. Will this be permitted on the plane? I'm not embarrassed about how it looks.

    Of course you can. Why wouldn't you be able to? The only rule is the size rule, but most airlines don't even bother to enforce that. Plenty of people use plastic shopping bags as their carry on luggage. The TSA would probably be happy that they can see all your stuff through the ziplock.

    I know the original poster has come to a decision, but I just want to weigh in --

    Even though it may be within the rules to have a certain type of bag as carry-on, I have frequently seen people who were forced after boarding to allow flight crews to put their carry-on bags into the luggage hold, despite their being appropriate for carry-on, because the carry-on storage was full. In some cases, these people were not the last to board, but just folks whose bag fell out or stuck out when the hold was opened.

    Now that there are charges for checked luggage, people seem to be carrying on more than ever, which can make this more likely.

    I would not personally want an XL ziploc bouncing around in the checked luggage, having seen how appropriately packed luggage of various kinds comes out. I would not trust it to stay closed for long under those conditions.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  16. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu Jan 5 2012 22:07:05
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    Nobugson me is right about the randomness of the bags which must be checked (even though it meets carryon restrictions).

    I'm not very articulate, but this has happened to me twice. I was in Zone 2 (so early on in the process), with a very expensive refundable ticket purchased by my employer, and had my small duffel bag taken from me as I walked into the plane for a one day business trip. I was behind six businessmen in suits with large carryons and briefcases. I was told that there was no more room in the overheads and wasn't allowed on the plane with it. That's when I took out my Large (the smallest ziploc) and took it with me. I got on the plane and there was room in the overhead and asked the flight attendant if my bag was still out there. They took 25 bags away that day, at the last of the Zone 2 group. It wasn't pretty. My dress was sweats and a duffel and, to be honest, I asked later if that was part of why I was the end of the line of carryons since my bag was so small (one flight attendant was going to let me on with it and the more senior one said "no, because the next person would want to bring theirs on too).

    The other time my bag was taken away was when I recently flew on my rewards points.

    So, bottom line is I wouldn't bring just a ziploc.


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