For less-than-frequent travelers, the security procedures at airports can be daunting and frustrating. Having gone through my fair share of airport security checkpoints, I put together these six helpful tips to hopefully get you through:
Follow the Liquids Rule. I’ve probably been through security at least 100 times over the last decade, and the one thing that I see sending bags into additional screening the most is liquids. Chunk that bottle of water before you get to security, and pack up all your carry-on liquids in a single, quart-sized ziplock bag. If that’s too much of a challenge, know that you can check as many liquids (in as many sizes) as you like. For some tips on fitting all your necessary liquids in a tiny-ass bag, check out this post.
Have Laptop and Liquids Easily Accessible. Unless you paid for (or are randomly blessed with) TSA Pre-Check, you’re going to have to take your laptop and liquids bag out of your carry-on. Laptops go in a bin by themselves. This is the second-most violated rule that I’ve seen in security lines. Save yourself some time, and have these items ready to be pulled out and placed in the bins. I usually carry a tote (or backpack) with a separate laptop space that makes it easy to remove and pack it back in, and I ALWAYS pack the liquids on top.
Take Off Shoes, Jackets and Belts. It may feel like stripping in front of strangers, but just think of it as friends you haven’t met yet. Shoes absolutely must come off, so wear shoes that are quick and easy to get on and off. If you’re worried about foot germs, wear shoes that can handle socks. Jackets and bulky outer layers are also a no-no in the scanners and must be sent through on the conveyor belt. As for belts, I always take mine off, but it is 50/50 on whether they set off the scanners. I’d personally rather err on the side of caution and slip my belt off (or don’t even wear one in the first place).
Empty Your Pockets.
Nothing will get you extra TLC from the TSA agents faster than having items in your pockets when you go through the scanners. So grab your cash, phone, boarding pass and keys and place them in a bin…unless you’re into getting felt up by random strangers (and no judgment if that’s your thing). The full-body scanners are unforgiving on items in pockets.
Ladies: Be Mindful of Long Necklaces. Necklaces are usually made of some kind of metal, and that means that they raise flags in the scanners. If you must wear one and forget to send it through with your luggage on the conveyer belt, flip it around to your back before you step into the scanner. You’ll be getting a pat-down wherever the necklace falls, and it’s a bit more comfortable to get a pat on the back from a stranger than a nice long rub up the front (again, unless that’s your thing).
Be Patient with TSA Agents. Yes – the procedures are a bit invasive, and we could debate all day long about whether our liberties are being infringed upon by the over-zealous searches and inane protocol. But ultimately, we all want to arrive safely, and most agents are just trying to do their jobs. Have a little patience and give reciprocal respect. However, if you DO feel like something isn’t right – speak up. Demand respect, but respect them as well.
Hopefully this help. Happy trails!