Travel tips: Breeze through airport security

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There are ways to prepare yourself for an easy stroll through these screening checkpoints.

The mere mention of the words “airport security” or “T.S.A.” can make even the most seasoned of travelers cringe. The long wait times, the rush to unload shoes, wallets and laptops into grey bins and the ever-dreaded “additional screening” may be one of the most disliked experiences when it comes to traveling. There are ways, however, to prepare yourself for an easy stroll through these screening checkpoints. Here are a few tips to breeze through airport security.

T.S.A. checkpoint (Image: Inha Leex Hale)
T.S.A. checkpoint (Image: Inha Leex Hale)

Get the 3-1-1

The 3-1-1 rule for liquids passing through airport security is still in place, which means you’re allowed to bring liquids in 3-ounce containers, provided they fit in one clear, quart-sized bag, with a limit of one bag per passenger. If you’re checking baggage, try to keep your liquids in your checked bags – this way, you won’t have to worry about hassles when it comes to the screening checkpoint. If you can’t avoid liquids in your carry-on, though, be sure to pack them into one quart-sized bag that’s easily accessible.

Checkpoint-friendly laptop bag (Image: Mobile Edge Laptop Cases used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
Checkpoint-friendly laptop bag (Image: Mobile Edge Laptop Cases used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Leave the laptop

Laptop computers must always be taken out of their bags when it comes to T.S.A. checkpoints. As you’re scrambling to take off your coat and shoes while emptying your pockets and getting your carry-on onto the belt, it can be time-consuming and frustrating to also have to unload your laptop into a separate bin. If you’re able to travel sans laptop, you’ll have an easier time at airport security. If you absolutely must travel with your laptop, though, consider investing in a TSA-approved laptop bag so you can leave your laptop in its bag as you go through security.

Wear slip-on shoes

While you might save space in your luggage by wearing your steel-toe hiking boots to the airport, you’ll spend more time at airport security as you unlace and re-lace those puppies when going through the security checkpoint. All shoes must be removed and screened at the T.S.A. checkpoint, so do yourself a favor and wear shoes that easily slip on and off. Also, keep in mind you’ll probably want to wear socks; otherwise, you’ll be walking barefoot through security.

T.S.A. checkpoint and bins (Image: redjar used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
T.S.A. checkpoint and bins (Image: redjar used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)

Avoid metal

Belts, spare change in your pockets, jewelry and even the underwires in your bra can set off the security scanners and lead to a once-over with the wand and a pat-down, so avoid wearing any metal if possible.

Pack neatly

Take extra time to pack your carry-on as neatly as possible. This will make it easier for T.S.A. officials to see what’s in your bag when it goes through the X-ray machine. If your bag is crammed full of items that the officers can’t make heads or tails of from the screen, you’ll have the added bonus of having to wait as T.S.A. officers open your bags and go through it manually to check for suspicious items.

(Main image: ampmouse1)

Travel tips: Breeze through airport security was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Marissa Willman
Author: Marissa Willman (786 posts)

Marissa Willman earned a bachelor's degree in journalism before downsizing her life into two suitcases for a teaching gig in South Korea. Seoul was her home base for two years of wanderlusting throughout six countries in Asia. In 2011, Marissa swapped teaching for travel writing and now calls Southern California home.