Baseball Fans Beware: Mini Souvenir Bats Forbidden by TSA on Air Flights

The TSA included a reminder about the bats and other prohibited sporting goods in its annual spring-break travel tips this week, under the category of sporting goods.

MESA, Ariz. – With spring training underway, baseball fans traveling to games in the Grapefruit League (Florida) and the Cactus League (Arizona) are reminded that miniature souvenir bats are considered to be potential weapons by the Transportation Security Administration and are therefore banned from flights.

The bats – about a foot and a half long – must be put in checked luggage, not carry-on bags, a policy that catches travelers unaware every year during spring training, the Arizona Republic reported. The souvenirs have been banned from flights since 9/11, along with items such as pocketknives, golf clubs, ski poles, and hockey and lacrosse sticks.

Tim Smith, general manager of concessionaire Ovation Food Services at Sloan Park, the Chicago Cubs’ spring-training home in Mesa, Ariz., told Arizona Republic the mini bats are the third-best seller at the ballpark’s store, behind media guides and T-shirts.

The bat buyers are “all over the board,’’ he said. “Some people buy them for their kids, and other people collect (them) from park to park.”

To spread the word about no bats in carry-on bags, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport issued reminders via social media this week, the newspaper reported.

Sky Harbor spokeswoman Heather Lissner told the newspaper the airport issues the reminder each March and stuck with the tradition this year because the TSA has been seeing a “good number of” bats at the security checkpoints.

A traveler has the option of sending the item home via UPS at the airport or handing it over to the TSA, which donates it to state surplus or the federal General Services Administration. Sky Harbor says its logs show several bats were mailed home this spring.

The TSA included a reminder about the bats and other prohibited sporting goods in its annual spring-break travel tips this week, under the category of sporting goods.

“Golf clubs, baseball bats (including the mini slugger bats), cricket bats, bows and arrows, hockey sticks, scuba knives, spear guns, etc. are all prohibited from being carried onto the plane,” the reminder said. “However, you can place them in your checked baggage.”

TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein told the newspaper the agency routinely includes the list of prohibited items in its travel tips so travelers aren’t forced to give them up.

“It definitely ensures that they don’t have to leave them behind when they’re departing Phoenix,’’ he said.

In early 2013, TSA administrators said small pocketknives, souvenir bats, toy bats and several other prohibited items would be allowed back on planes as part of its efforts to focus on greater threats, such as explosives. The plan was shelved after protests from flight attendants and some lawmakers.

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