TSA vs. cold toes
December 6, 2010 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Will air-activated toe warmers in checked baggage trigger a TSA alert?

I've been using air-activated chemical toe warmers to deal with the cold, and would like to take a handful with me in checked baggage when I travel. However, in spite of the FAQ saying that they're safe for air travel, I'm not sure whether they'll trigger an alert, and online discussions are old or conflicting. The package lists the contents as "iron, potassium chloride, activated charcoal, water, vermiculite" and declares them to be non-toxic and non-flammable.

Anyone travelled with them recently?
posted by holgate to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
If the FAQ says they're fine, why would they not be fine?

At worst, I'd check that handy sign at the bag-scan area which explains what sorts of items can't be checked - usually stuff like firearms, explosives, and highly flammable items. To my knowledge, toe warmers don't fall into any of those categories, and if it was a little known fact that they were dangerously explosive (despite the fact that the manufacturer claims that this isn't the case), they'd be mentioned on that sign. That's why the sign specifies stuff like fire extinguishers and certain cleaning supplies; people might not know they are volatile under the conditions of a cargo hold.

If "toe warmers" pops up on the sign, then just chuck 'em (or throw 'em into your carry-on?) and move on.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2010

If you're checking them, the worst-case scenario is that they don't get to your final destination. I'd say there's a good chance they open your bag and look at them, so pack them near the top (they open a lot of the bags even when they don't have something suspect). Keep them in original packages, and don't worry about it.
posted by brainmouse at 9:20 AM on December 6, 2010

Best answer: I was on a jobsite last winter and accidentally left 4 of these in my coat pocket. I had just left the jobsite, and they were still active and warm. The screener didn't bat an eye, just mentioned that I still had them in my pockets and wanted to see them.

This was last year though, no idea what the policy is now.
posted by sanka at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2010

If you're checking a bag, that means you'll be there for a bit, yes? To avoid hassle, I would probably priority mail these to where you will be or see if they're available to buy once you get there. With crazy security, I wouldn't single myself or my bags out for any unnecessary attention.
posted by Night_owl at 9:23 AM on December 6, 2010

Mod note: comment removed - answer the question do not turn this into a "this is how TSA sucks" thread. We know they suck.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2010

Best answer: I brought a 10+ hand and toe warmers through security several times last winter with no problems (in my carry-on bag, I never check anything). Only once did they make me remove them from my carry-on and send them through the scanner separately.
posted by valeries at 9:55 AM on December 6, 2010

The TSA only inspects somewhere between 1/6 and 1/3 of all checked bags. The likelihood is that no one will even look inside your bag.
posted by decathecting at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2010

Best answer: I have gone skiing many times with these in checked baggage and have never had an issue.
posted by kenbennedy at 12:44 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I wasn't so much worried about their being "flight-safe" as much as the potential for false positives and additional hassle, which is why I was looking for personal experience of flying with them. Will update post-flight.
posted by holgate at 2:31 PM on December 6, 2010

Response by poster: Post-flight update: no problem at all.
posted by holgate at 6:29 AM on December 10, 2010

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