Top Ten Tips For Getting Through Airport Security

While most of us are seasoned travelers, there may be some who haven't traveled for awhile or often. I saw this and thought some might find it helpful:

Top Ten Tips for Getting Through Airport Security

Anyone wish to add anything?

Posted by Terry
Bend, OR
564 posts

Anna and Teresa...I had to see what you two were talking about. Thanks for a good laugh!

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

Have your liquids and gels baggie in an accessible place in your carry-on so that you can remove it quickly without rummaging through your overstuffed wheelie looking for it while holding up the screening line.

Wear slip-off shoes if possible so that you don't have to untie and retie your shoes. Put your shoes directly on the belt rather than in a bin--even though this is supposed to be "optional," I've seen TSA screeners insist on it, slowing down the lines while people retrieved their shoes out of the bins.

Remember that your kids' DVD player needs to come out of the carry-on just like a computer does.

If you are traveling with kids, take them aside well away from the security line and prepare them for the security process there. Take off jackets and sweaters, check pockets for stray items, stash loved toys and blankies in the carry-on so they don't have the trauma of watching precious lovies go into the nasty looking tunnel, and for younger kids and toddlers, remind them to wait at the end of the conveyor for Mommie or Daddy to join them.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

For those who wear laced non-business style shoes, here's something that might make it easier to get your shoes on and off:

Speed Laces

Posted by Teresa
Seattle
464 posts

Nothing to add except that I really like the line, "Gather your crap and walk away." Amen! (Also, "Recombobulation Area" made me smile.)

Posted by Anna
Seattle, WA, United States
684 posts

I see the person whose bag was x-rayed there plans to have some fun on their trip :P

Posted by Teresa
Seattle
464 posts

Anna: I'm so glad I'm not the only one who noticed that! [blush] I love that it's supposed to be an example of a potentially suspicious-looking bag, and then ... HELLO!

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Wear slip-off shoes if possible so that you don't have to untie and retie your shoes.

Well, I made sure my kids were wearing their heavy winter boots on the flight and I did too. And of course they had to be tied and take some time to take off. Hubby decided to do the slip-on shoes for the flight.

Result: when we arrived but our luggage didn't he was walking around in the snow in wet feet while the rest of us stayed dry. If you need to take winter boots along for a 2 week trip doing that in carry-on luggage together with other usually more bulky clothing is more or less impossible.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

I received a few PM's about it....what really surprises me is that I didn't pay much attention to the photo and didn't notice it until someone pointed it out to me in a PM. I must be getting old.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11274 posts

I originally thought that might have been a TSA training photo with the "item" added to find out who was paying attention, but then I clicked on the link below the picture and read the Register article. Apparently that was really someone's luggage.

If this is what they do with luggage X-rays, think of what will happen with full body scans.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7209 posts

I've always gone with:

  1. Be ready (pretty much covered in their top ten).

  2. Have a sense of humor.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Have a sense of humor

This is so true! It doesn't help anybody to get stressed out - and only hurts yourself. Last time my father came to visit he literally had a heart attack at the security check because he got so angry. Thank God for nitro ... Next time he's coming with my aunt in tow. She DOES have a great sense of humour and loads of patience so hopefully she can keep him calm.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2381 posts

I am a big fan of stripping yourself before heading to security. No belts, no jewelry, nothing in pockets (All that is in your bag)...if you set off the detector...you are an idiot. OK...that's harsh, but not too far from reality. I travel a half dozen times a year, NEVER set off a detector. Certainly, if you have a medical device, you can't help it, but tell the TSO immediately and get out of everyone elses way.

The shoe on the belt thing vs in a tote confuses me, since I have put my shoes in a separate tote, to have them pulled out...then told at the next check to put them in a tote and not on the belt. I let it roll and do as told without worrying about it. Arguing with the TSA is a fast route to problems. (Recent articles have shown that the TSA are the lowest paid Federal employees, supporting the axiom that the lower the pay of the employee the higher the propensity to cause a problem)

Certainly, prepare for the flight just like you plan for a trip and you will be fine.

Posted by jack
Sheboygan, Wisc., USA
927 posts

I also take everything out of my pockets.One other thing my wife had double knee replacement and the alarm will go off.She always gets taken aside.If she would leave her items on the table after going thru the xray machine for the 10 minutes it takes they might be gone.So I go thru and she waits until Im done(no matter how long that takes) and then she sends her things down and I collect them and wait in another area nearby for her.

Posted by Evan
South Glens Falls, NY, USA
104 posts

Bring an empty water bottle with you thru security and when you get to the other side, fill it up.

Posted by Nancy
Taylor, TX, USA
416 posts

Now if every airport would have a "Recombobulation Area" away from the end of the x-ray machines, so much the better. We made the mistake of routing through JFK last year and between my father's disability and my laptop/electronics and NO place to take the bins to in order to get yourself together, it really made getting away from security a hassle. I love the airports that have put tables about 15 to 20 feet past the ends of the machines so that you can gather your stuff, go over and set it down and get re-organized without being in the way of the folks who don't have a laptop as well as their shoes and carry-on. I must say, I DID get pretty quick at putting everything together again and I did have everything bagged (one bag for liquids, one clear bag with electronics cords/batteries, phone) so that it was easier to get it out and put it away.

Incidentally, the one item that slowed me up a couple of times was the dash-base for my GPS. That sand-filled thing apparently looks suspicious on x-ray.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1359 posts

Hello Frank II. I appreciate your effort of posting the internet Link to the "Top Ten Tips ..." at this web page. I wonder if those "Top Ten Tips" could also be put at an other web page at this web site (not at the Traveller's Helpline), for many people to see it, and could it stay there for a long time ?

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

Trust the guy who wrote this. If you don't fly often, don't get in the Expert Flyer line. Having read his "article" won't make you an expert and my fellow business travelers can be flat out MEAN!

The laptop bags are WONDERFUL! I thought they would be a waste of money. Found one for $40 or so at Target and love it. Makes getting through the thing so much easier.

Pay attention! Right now shoes at "most" airports must go directly on the belt and not on the bin.

No, your carryon does not need a bin. Your purse does not need a bin etc... If you have more then two bins, you are probably doing something that's just slowing down the entire process.

Coats, jackets, sweaters, etc. OFF. Put them in the bin, put your ziplock baggie on top of them in the bin. (And then try to figure how that move provided "security" :) )

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

Thought of something else.

Liquids you bought in "duty free" are not "exempt" for the the 3 oz rule. So if you are not flying direct to your destination think about that before you buy the perfume, booze etc.... For example, when I lived in Nashville, I had to come through someplace and clear customs there. That means you pick up your luggage. Or are in the luggage area if you didn't check. Either way you have left the "sterile" area. You will be re-screened. Your liguid will be taken. If you checked, you can put it in the checked luggage when you clear customs. (If you live in Atlanta you must put it in the checked luggage no matter what, there's no way out of the airport without being re-screened) Just last week I saw a guy at LAX pitching a fit over this because his "booze" was "purchased at duty free" Didn't work!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3313 posts

While I agree that in general more than two bins means that you're putting that you're putting things in bins that don't need to be there, there are times when they can multiply. For me, it's when I'm traveling for business and have both the Mac and the PC and it's winter with hats, scarves and other miscellaneous stuff. ; )

Absolutely don't go in the expert line unless you travel a lot-which is more than a couple of trips a year. Business travelers don't have a lot a patience and you will be subject to dirty looks and comments. ; )

Pam

Posted by Ashley
Rocky Mount, USA
82 posts

A great and convenient time saver is to order the "quick pass luggage tag" from Magellan's (magellans.com). It looks like a regular luggage ID tag (4 1/4" x 3")that buckles onto your carry-on, but it unfolds into a zippered mesh pouch (11"x6 3/4"). Before going to the security line or while in line, empty your pockets, etc. into the pouch. Another advantage is that your watch, phone, coins, etc. are attached to your bag and not scattered in an unsecure bin. You can then refill your pocket while waiting to board your plane. You will find it under the heading Luggage Scales & Locks & then the category Locks & Tags.

Posted by Teresa
Seattle
464 posts

The last time I went through Heathrow (October), they wanted EVERYTHING in a bin, including my RS 21" rolling bag. The only thing they seemed to waver on was shoes. When I was flying to Paris, they told me I could keep my shoes on, though they were asking people with shoes that hid their ankles to take them off. When I flew back from Paris, everyone had to take off shoes.

Posted by Joe
Dallas, TX, USA
9 posts

Going through security....

Take off shoes, coat, jacket and place in bin.

Remove laptop from bag and put on tray. Put cell phone in bin or carry on bag.

DO NOT take out money, take off rings, belts, watches, etc. unless there is a ton of metal on those items.

Be prepared. Follow directions. Get through security and onto your flight.

Simple.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

Except things change and different airports do things differently.

The prior post says to place your shoes in the bin. I've found that airports in the U.S. typically require you to place your shoes directly on the belt and not in the bin.

Some airports ask you to remove the plastic bag with liquids, others don't.

I travel frequently and can get things out quickly; however I understand why infrequent travelers get confused.

Posted by Teresa
Seattle
464 posts

Eli: I was talking about Heathrow. I was flying through there to get to Paris. :-)

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

I guess you haven't flown anywhere in awhile. All air passsengers in the U.S., whether flying domestically or internationally, must remove their shoes.

Posted by Scott M.
Dallas, TX, USA
1166 posts

SCOTTEVEST

This is a company that makes travel jackets and vests with numerous unique pockets of various sizes. The idea being that instead of having to empty your pockets into the security trays and possibly losing personal belongings, you can just stuff your jacket/vest pockets full and then take it off and send it through the X-Ray machine by itself. These are also pickpocket unfriendly.

http://www.scottevest.com/

Posted by Elizabeth
Shoreview, MN, usa
187 posts

I have a family member who is works for TSA. I'll never forget how he said it should never feel routine. That, it should always feel like, "I never had to do that before."

Interesting point, I think.

The most important thing, don't waste their time with chit chat, be polite and cooperative. Don't argue or get mad--you'll never win!

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Anything TSA does past the checkpoint is a joke. Now they're starting to pat down "selective" people at the boarding gate. As if a terrorist is stupid enough to let that happen. If they see the "smurfs" come to the gate, all they have to do is get up and walk away. But the majority of brain dead passengers will think they are being protected.

It's pure theater and in the name "protecting the fearful from terrorism," they're allowed to throw out the Constitution. And if they do such a thorough job at the checkpoint, why must they harass people at the boarding gate?

We have he Oscars, the Emmy, The Tony's...and soon the "Smurfees," for best performance by a TSA worker.

(I actually don't blame the airport TSO's as they are doing what they are told to do. The majority know it's theater. And the ones too dumb to realize it are now being chosen to get top secret clearance.")

Hello Canada..got room for one more?

Posted by John
Brentwood, CA, US
22 posts

Anyone - does Eurostar rail have strict security? Do I or can I check baggage riding Eurostar from Paris to London?

Posted by Michael 1
Phoenix, AZ, USA
1035 posts

You go through a metal detector, but it isn't as intensive as an airport.

No checking bags, you carry on and can either load them into a luggage bin at the end of the car or overhead if bags aren't too big.

Posted by Michael 1
Phoenix, AZ, USA
1035 posts

You go through a metal detector, but it isn't as intensive as an airport.

No checking bags, you carry on and can either load them into a luggage bin at the end of the car or overhead if bags aren't too big.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

I am flying to Seattle (Tacoma) next month, and would like to use my 22" wheelie. Did I read somewhere that I might have to check my luggage because of the wheels?

Posted by Teena
Piedmont, nc, usa
282 posts

The key to getting through is patience and preparedness. I get ready well before getting in line. I flew every week for 5 years and my fellow business travelers could get a little impatient. I almost joined them one day when a tiny Asian woman couldn't decide whether to take her lace up knee boots off or not. It was late in the day and there were about 100 people in front of us, each taking of shoes as they approached security. This lady just kept unlacing and lacing her boots. Unfortunately she was in the "laced" position when she reached security and we all had to wait for her to unlace again and get the boots off. I was afraid people were going to start throwing laptops at her! Just a little hint about those qt. size plastic bags. They stretch. Keep using the same one over & over and you'll be able to get more in each time.

Posted by JER
Seattle, USA
981 posts

Eli, In theory, you could be forced to check a 22 inch wheelie because nearly all so-called 22 inch wheelies are actually longer once you measure the wheels and protruding handle portion. (Try yours sometime in one of those sizers--you'll likely find it won't fit.) But the 22 inch size is pretty standard as a carry-on, so most airlines look the other way.

Frankly, I wish they wouldn't--the jumbo sized carry-ons often don't fit wheels first into bins and so their owners load them sideways, taking up extra bin space. As a result, the bins fill up and the last boarders on full flights have to check their carry-ons. Which means that people start trying to sneak on earlier than their assigned boarding slot to be sure to find a place for their wheelies, and gate attendants have to decide whether to stop them or not. Either way, not a good situation.

When I hurt my shoulder and had to travel with wheelies for a couple of months, I bought a 20 incher. It fits easily into bins wheels first, and as a bonus it's easier to lift over my head to get into the bin. Now that I'm healed, though, I much prefer my wheel-less bags, even for US travel. In a pinch they will go under the seat in front of me, so I don't need to stress about the overhead bins being full.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

And in addition to what JER said, in some cases, I've seen gate agents decide that ALL wheeled bags will be checked if they deem there are too many and the flight is full. It just saves them time loading and unloading.

Theoretically, you SHOULD be able to take it on board, but be prepared to check it. If they ask you to check it...ask if you can have it "gate checked" instead. This means they take it from you at the end of the jetway, and when you arrive, deliver it to you there rather than at baggage claim.

Posted by Candice
San Antonio, Texas, USA
27 posts

I just found this article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704398804575071370640933954.html?mod=WSJ_Books_Travel so now I am wondering if I will have to get to the airport coming back from Europe extra early.

When I flew domestically last week on American, they did something I've never heard of before. They made me and everyone else with roller boards board last!

Normally, I try to be one of the first people to get on in my group because I almost always sit in the window seat and I unpack the things I brought to entertain me on the flight. Usually, I'm all unpacked and seated before the person sitting next to me gets to their seat.

So this time, I had to make the two guys (luckily really nice people!) move and stay standing for a minute while I got myself situated.

I guess the reason why they wanted the roller boards to board last was to board quicker but that seemed to me to make the process go slower. On top of that, I bet less fit into the overhead since the put all the small things first and the larger things last.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6837 posts

The secondary searches described in the article are mostly new for passengers heading into the US from Canada. But from Europe these secondary checks have always been in place for the most part, so it really doesn't add that much time to the security screenings.

Posted by Scott M.
Dallas, TX, USA
1166 posts

Don't say the words "BOMB", "GUN", "FUSE", "ALLAH", "SUICIDE".....
.

Posted by Lisa
Italy 2012
104 posts

Thank You Frank!! I am not a seasoned traveler and making our first big trip in 3 weeks. Thanks to your post I just learned that Dr. Scholls gel inserts are not allowed. Had no idea. They are in all my shoes and my sons. I will remove, save time and money (would have had to throw away..$13 each..yikes!) Thanks again.

Posted by Lisa
Italy 2012
104 posts

Is that what I think it is in the xrayed bag they show in the article?

Posted by Lisa
Italy 2012
104 posts

Just read the above posts about the xrayed bag...it is what I thought apparently. What a great laugh for the day! Thank you.

Posted by Tom
Brea, CA, USA
36 posts

How come only the ladies noticed the item? lol

Here's a tip (no pun intended) don't leave your dildo in your bag when it's going to be x-rayed.

Posted by Lisa
Italy 2012
104 posts

Thank you Tom for my second best laugh of the day. I needed it now that I have to fret about the volcano erupting before my trip to Europe in 2 1/2 weeks.

Posted by Jenufa
London, UK
283 posts

I second the empty water bottle tip.

I usually travel with a Sigg bottle to avoid plastic bottle waste. I attached a carabiner on the top and clip it on the outside of my bag to show that it is empty before it goes through the x-ray machine. This usually saves a lot of time.

Posted by Molly
Everett, WA, United States
42 posts

PEANUT BUTTER is considered a gel. Don't try to take a jar of it on the plane, you will be heartbroken when they take it.

Posted by Robert
Chicago
3 posts
  1. If you go through the whole-body scan device, remove your money belt or neck wallet, even if all you have in it is paper money and a passport. This is not the metal detector, but the "X-Ray" thing that looks under your clothes. If they see something unusual (e.g., a money belt) you get selected for special attention.

  2. With a metal detector: the strength of the signal is equal to the inverse of the square of the distance between the metal object and the detection device, so if you have a watch or a big metal ring, hold your hands, palms up, right in front of your belly button, the maximum distance from the detectors. Try to make it look like you're just showing that your hands are empty.

  3. Never step right on the bottom bar that goes between the two side metal detector uprights. Pace yourself so that one foot is six inches in front of the opening, and the next foot goes six inches beyonde. Don't know why, but it helps. Maybe that's only if you have shoes on, not likely any more.

Posted by Amy
Batavia, OHIO, US
2 posts

i just read what everyone put on this site.im more confused now than ever.i havent flown since june of 2000.back then you didnt have to take your shoes off.going overseas.never been there before.going to be taking my carry on,fanny pack,jacket.the jacket i know will be taken off.what about the fanny pack and carry on will that go thru the trays? i thought you experienced travelers could help me.
what about the fluid rule? as in shampoo do i have to get the travel size? the small size. toothpaste too?
taking my cameras and camcorder will that mess them up going thru the metal detector?

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Amy, start with this section of the TSA website and it will give you all the info you need:

TSA What To Know Before You Go

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

"Oh my God. This is stupid. "

And that was an intelligent response?

LOL!

Posted by Amy
Batavia, OHIO, US
2 posts

thanks frank.i have a question though what is checked luggage? i have a 35 mm camera and a digital camera.it said anything under 800 film wont go thru the metal detector.i have 400 and 800 film. but what about digital cameras? im sure to you all this is an old hat.but for me i havent flown in a very long time.no clue what im doing....

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3313 posts

Amy, on this site many people like to travel using only carry on luggage. This is the luggage that you personally carry on to the airplane and store in the bin overhead or under the seat in front of you. You are usually limited to two items one of which includes a purse. Some airlines limit carry on to one item. Some airlines are strict about the weight of the carry on. - Checked luggage is luggage that you hand over to the airline to put in the hold. If you are bringing walking sticks or a tri-pod or liquids over 3 ounces you will have to check your bag. Never put film in a checked bag. Never put jewelry or medicines in a checked bag other than over the counter medicines. Don't put matches in a checked bag. - Carry on luggage that has the restrictions that limit you to 3 ounces of liquid in one quart sized bag per person. You can pack the plastic bag, but it must be able to close. Carry extra ones with you. People choose to only use carry on because it removes the worry of lost luggage. You also can move faster as you don't have to wait for the luggage to come off the plane. You carry it with you. Look at the TSA website for more info. You'll be fine. It really is pretty straight-forward.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4377 posts

Just a reminder that this post is 4 months old so the people who asked question have probably already traveled.

Posted by John
St. Petersburg, FL, USA
104 posts

I remember many years ago, we were heading home from CDG in Paris. This was soon after the guy tried to "light up his shoe" and I believe that his flight originated from Paris. We went through security without any problems but in the gift shops on the other side of security, they were selling lighters!!! That made absolutely no sense. They did some pat downs on the way to the plane but what ever happened to that famous love of logic that the French had?

Posted by Kim
Little, Oklahoma, USA
33 posts

My tip? Simple, be ready before you get there. Know the rules. Here's my daily chuckle[INVALID]here in Tulsa, we have one of those obnoxious full body scanners. Sure enough, one day I was flying out and the guy working the scanner was an airport employee that I knew!! (I'm in HR..) Wow, did I feel creepy-crawled. At least I don't get patted down anymore because of underwire bras.

Posted by Lani
Dublin, CA, USA
4 posts

@Kim, that sounds really icky. My husband doesn't think there's a problem with those full-body scanners but as long as you can see a person's "naked" body I think they are really obnoxious! As for getting through airport security quickly, here is my routine. This assumes you are only traveling with your carry-ons, by the way. 1) As soon as I get my boarding pass, I move to the side. I remove my watch and my belt and put them in a side pocket of my carry-on. 2) I keep my ID and boarding pass handy 3) I remove my 3-1-1 toiletry bag from my bag. 4) After the TSA agent has checked my boarding pass and ID and I get into a queue, I also remove any electronics from my carry-on. I leave things like cables and adapters in my bag, but laptop, cell phone, iPod, all get removed. 5) I put the electronics in a bin. If I don't have a laptop, the same bin also gets my 3-1-1 toiletry bag. If there's enough room, I also put my shoes in the bin (I have yet to have any TSA agent tell me I cannot keep the shoes in the bin, by the way). 6) I put my main bag in first, and then my bin (because people are less likely to grab your entire bag). 7) Keeping my ID and boarding pass in my hand, I stay by the conveyor belt until my bin is actually beyond reach of someone grabbing it, then I walk through the security portal. This has worked really well for me. Just make sure you don't have change in your pockets and such. It's all about getting ready before you actually get in line.

Posted by Carol
Oak Lawn, IL, USA
90 posts

I wore a knee brace with metal reinforcements which of course set off the machine. I told the agent I could take it off. Instead, they got the female agent to come wand me. It beeped over the brace, it beeped over my ankle where the plate and 8 screws had been surgically implanted, it beeped over my bra's underwires and then at the back for the hooks & eyes. Due to all the beeping, I had to have my hands wiped to check for explosives residue and then a patdown in public. I just laughed and said what a great Facebook story it would be. That was getting out of O'Hare. In Brussels, I was smart. The brace and fold up cane went in my carryon. WRONG! I was pulled aside and had to watch the agent unpack my bag, dirty laundry and all. Finally, they let me repack and go on my merry way.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1359 posts

More people will be interested in reading the "Top Ten Tips For Getting Through Airport Security". Read it, by clicking on those words in Frank's original post that started this discussion thread.

Posted by Paula
Nr Toronto
6 posts

As most airport security have a variation on a theme, I look ahead of the line to see what people are being told to do, then follow suit when it's my turn. Any jewellery / valuables / purse are packed in my bag before I leave home, I only get them out / put them on after I've gone through security. I put gadgets / electronics / chargers etc., in a separate stuff sack for security, that way my bag only shows clothes and if security has an issue with the gadgets, then they're only searching the stuff sack and not making me unpack my clothing.
I wish all the airports I use had the different lines for expert travellers etc., maybe one day they'll clue in.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

Don't allow the person behind you to butt into your process. You may need more bins and space for your stuff. Sometimes senior citizens have been allowed to keep on shoes and light jackets. The shoes part worked fine, but I was asked to remove my jacket, pass thru xray,and still be frisked. Thankfully, the xray machines are being phased out. What was the point if they would frisk me anyway? Move away from the security line at the end and take your time re-assembling yourself. Make sure you have left nothing behind. It helps if you have used no more than 3 bins. You are less likely to leave things behind. I put coins, keys, etc into a bin rather than the little holder they hand you at the conveyer belt. Those little holders are easy to forget. If you must travel with a container of a fluid that exceeds 3 and a half ounces, hold it separately so security can see what it is. Some folks need fluids for medical reasons; these can be carried on but must be examined separately. At the beginning of the security line there are often bins for you to discard forbidden items. I've seen lots of water bottles. Why not just drink the water or dump it in a drinking fountain so you can keep the plastic bottle. Have your ticket and ID (passport of driver's license) in your hand or a convenient pocket before starting thru the security line.