Posted by: Mary | August 29, 2012

Serious Security at PDX!

While I haven’t had a chance to write about my weekend at the Oregon coast, I just got back from my trip last night and had quite an adventure getting through airport security in Portland (PDX).  I am a relatively frequent traveler and know the rules about carry-on baggage.  All liquids must be in a Ziploc bag no larger than a Quart.  Liquids must be no larger than 3 ounces (some airports say 3.4 ounces).  Medical liquids that are larger should be placed in the bin  for easy testing by TSA.  (Some airports even designate a separate line for families and people traveling with medical liquids aka “the slow line”.) Remove shoes, belts, jackets, substantial jewelry (Hawaiian Heirloom bangle bracelets, watches, etc.) and anything inside your pockets.  Remove laptops from their case and place in the bin separately, or open TSA approved laptop cases to go through the scanner.  iPads can remain in your bag.

I’ve done this dozens of times and had no problems.  On the way to PDX from my home airport, no problem.  On my way back, I was traveling with the same medical liquids, which were my contact lens cleaning solution and saline rinse solution.  I’ve traveled with these for over 5 years and each time, they’re tested by TSA, but have never had a problem.  This time, when I was asked to step aside while they were tested, I expected the same scenario.  Boy was I wrong.

The saline tested fine, but the contact lens cleaner did not.  It was tested twice and then I was told that I would not be able to take it with me.  While I wasn’t happy about it, I only had a few days worth of solution left in the bottle and readily agreed to give it up in the name of keeping our flight safe.  (Apparently the 3% hydrogen peroxide it contains was the problem.)  I was told I could go and then called back again when the TSA agent was informed by a colleague that I needed to be searched and all of my belongings needed to be tested.

To make a long story shorter, the TSA agent was either new or trying to use up a fair amount of time (he had been complaining earlier that they are short-staffed and don’t get enough funding to hire the necessary people), but he started by carefully emptying my purse one item at a time and laying them all out.  He then swabbed each one and put the cloth into the scanner one by one and waited for the results.  One of his coworkers came by and told him that I had a plane to catch and everything could be swabbed with the same cloth and tested.  She then completed the pat down and when the contents of my purse cleared, they proceeded to do the ame to my suitcase, shoes and belt.  After more than a half hour, I was finally allowed to leave.

Never have I had such an experience over contact lens solution, but needless to say, I’ll be searching the stores for bottles that meet the 3 ounce requirement for now on.  Let this serve as a tip for others who have flown with contact lens solution containing hydrogen peroxide.  If you’re flying out of PDX, leave it home or make sure it’s in your approved liquids in the Ziploc bag.  To be safe, I’ll be doing it at all airports for now on.



  1. Too funny. I got hung up in security in Bangor over contact solution. The security line was a mile long and the agent wasn’t sure if it qualified as a “medical liquid.” I’ve stocked up on 3oz bottles ever since.

    • I’ll absolutely be doing that this weekend, as I’ve got 4 trips coming up between now and the end of the year!

  2. Oh my goodness, how pedantic! It’s crazy how some people just seem to come up with new rules that you’ve never had a problem with before…

    • I just never know what to expect when I travel anymore. At least the bottle was nearly empty! I would have hated to throw away a $15 bottle if it was new.

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