What You Need to Know: NFL Clear Bag Policy

Ladies, let’s talk for a second. We are some of the biggest sports fans out there, but you can’t take your giant purses into the games with you.

It’s always been a hassle, but in 2013, the NFL adopted a clear bag policy.

Now most colleges have followed suit and implemented the same or similar clear bag policy.

What you need to know about the NFL Clear Bag Policy to quickly get into games without waiting forever at stadium security lines

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Basically, you can put your “stuff” in a clear plastic tote, a clear gallon (or smaller) size Ziploc, or in a small clutch, about the size of your hand.

If the Guns N Roses concert at the Georgia Dome was any indication, then the NFL is cracking down on what it considers a “small” clutch. So before you head out to the game, make sure that your “stuff” is contained in an approved bag. You’d hate to miss kickoff because you are returning to the RV with your large purse.

So let’s take a look at what is and is not acceptable in the eyes of security…

The Clear Tote Bags

The clear tote bags can be no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches. Don’t try to get by with a larger one. Security seems to think you’ve had long enough to figure out the rules now and is cracking down on oversized items. A team or league logo can be on the bags (one logo, centered on one side), but they must otherwise be clear.

I really like these clear tote bags with a zipper and shoulder strap. You can even customize the color of the zipper and strap to match your team. Or you can get a clear tote bag with your team logo for extra style points.

Be careful if you get a plastic tote from a retailer. Most teams have restrictions on tinted totes. They must be CLEAR. No, really, no tint or color other than the team logo. Don’t risk it and try to be all fashionable here. Do NOT get a tinted bag. Security will reject you if they are not clear. That also includes mesh bags so don’t try them.

So you know what else is not permitted? The fanny pack. No really, fanny packs are specifically excluded from the approved bags. So are coolers, briefcases (really, don’t bring your work to the stadium), luggage, camera bags, binocular bags, and diaper bags. You can still take in your cameras and binoculars, just not their cases.

Wait, No Diaper Bags? Think about the Kids!

Sorry guys, you’ll have to find another way to smuggle in your alcohol.

Instead, the NFL recommends that you use those clear plastic tote bags or the gallon Ziploc bags to put in your diaper bag necessities. Each adult and kid can have their own bag so the NFL thinks this should be sufficient to take in enough to keep your babies and toddlers in clean diapers for a few hours. I’m not going to argue with you parents or with the NFL. It’s the policy so you’ll have to figure it out or convince them that the stuff is medically necessary.

But Why? I Want My Purse!

Small clutch purses or bags are acceptable under the NFL Clear Bag PolicyFirst, it’ll make the security lines go a lot faster, so there is some benefit to you. Without having to search bags (or only minimal searching), the security personnel can send more people through faster. And who wants to wait outside? You can either tailgate longer or you can get inside to watch pregame festivities. Or to get your beer.

Second, you won’t have to lug around a big purse, so your back will thank you later. We’ve all heard the doctors tell us how bad those heavy backpacks and purses are for our backs, posture, and shoulders. So give them a break. Your probably already hurting your feet enough in those cute shoes so give your body a break.

Third, you will no longer have to be tripping over the purse in the stands. Or trying to figure out how to make sure that no one spilled Coke or beer on it.

Fourth, the NFL says that it improves security. Guess you can’t bring in guns if you can’t hide them in a bag and then go through a metal detector. Was this really a problem? Or are they just trying to cut down on smuggled alcohol?

Really, the NFL is doing you a favor saying you don’t have to carry the purse around. Just go with it.

Small Clutches Approved for Clear Bag Policy

The NFL Clear Bag Policy permits small clutches that are approximately the size of your hand. However, the maximum size is 4 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches. Your clutch can also have a wrist strap on it outside these dimensions. Personally, I recommend the strap to help you hold onto it, the beer and the hotdog. Or the beer and the beer, whatever your preference.

Small clutch size purses are acceptable under the NFL Clear Bag Policy. If it's longer than 6 1/2 inches, don't run the risk.

For comparison sake, my Samsung S6 is about 5 3/4 inches long. The clutch pictured on the left side will hold my cellphone but without a lot of room to spare. While the other bags will easily hold the phone, a wallet, and other fun things, it is not worth the risk of security rejecting them.

More Tips about the Clear Bag Policy

1. Don’t Rely on Bag Check

Many NFL stadiums and some college stadiums will provide a bag check for those bags that are not approved under the clear bag policy. Unfortunately, every team will say that they are not responsible for any losses for bags or their contents at the stadium bag check. You could end up forgetting to pick up the bag after the game or it gets lost or stolen. Or contents go missing. I’m not saying that anything would be intentional but these things do happen. Not to mention that with everyone leaving at one time, you’ll have a long line to pick up your bag after the game. Wouldn’t you rather be back at the tailgate with your friends?

2. Pockets! Yay, More Stuff!

Fill up those cargo short pockets with all the stuff that you can! There’s nothing stopping you from doing so, but remember you can still be searched. At NFL stadiums, you are also subject to metal detectors or wands. So don’t be surprised if you have to empty all your pockets.

3. Coats, Blankets are Permitted

You can still bring in coats and blankets for cold weather games. Just sling them over your shoulders so that you can easily shake them out to show you are not bringing any contraband into the stadium. Same goes for beach towels, if you are bringing them for the hot games since who wants to sit on a hot bleacher?

4. Seat Cushions are Permitted, Kind Of

Your basic seat cushion, without pockets, will be permitted through security. However, if you have one of those fancy seat cushions with pockets, zippered compartments or other hiding places, be prepared to have security reject them.

5. Medical Necessity Items

The NFL has provided an exception to the clear bag policy for items that are deemed medically necessary. However, you will not be able to go through the main security lines and will instead be directed to a special designated security line. You’ll need to check with each stadium to find out where that is. Our experience is that it will be in the most inconvenient spot available, because that’s how security works.

Colleges Jumping on the Clear Bag Policy

More and more colleges are jumping in on the Clear Bag Policy. Almost every day, another college announces that they too are implementing the same game day clear bag policy. Some schools are even using the same graphics as the NFL to explain the clear bag policy on the school websites. At this point, it is widespread enough to say that you should comply with the policy for all college and professional games. If they do not yet have a policy, they will soon. So find your small clutch bag and be ready to cheer on your favorite team without delay.

Traditionally, the schools have been good about easing fans into the policy. Some schools are encouraging compliance with the clear bag policy for the first few games of the 2016 season and will make it mandatory by the time big conference rivalry games start.

Georgia Tech has provided clear bags for season ticket holders for a couple of seasons now, but has not historically enforced the other purse limitations (still no large bags but they have not been strict on purses). Season ticket holders with the special bag are permitted to bring in food and non-alcoholic drinks in the stadium. (Tip: for hot games, use frozen water bottles to cool off. As the ice melts, you’ll have cold water while everyone else is stuck drinking the lukewarm water from the concession stands. And it’s cheaper!)

The full NFL Clear Bag Policy is available from NFL.com.

What’s your experience with the NFL Clear Bag Policy?

What you need to know about the NFL Clear Bag Policy to get through security lines quickly and efficiently. Do not get caught having to wait in the bag check lines at the football stadiumWhat stadiums are the most difficult to get into? Who has the toughest crackdown on the NFL Clear Bag Policy?

Let everyone know your experiences getting through security at stadiums.

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