Getting through airport security can easily be one of the most stressful aspects of traveling. Will you get in and out with enough time to get to your gate? Are you going to have to toss anything in your bag? Making it onto your flight on time can definitely make a nervous traveler even more anxious.
Even if you have Global Entry, CLEAR, or TSA PreCheck, the lines can still be long and the process can still feel stressful. While you can’t control how long it takes, you can be a proactive and prepared traveler. Follow this guide and avoid common mistakes that slow security lines down.
1. Only remove the required electronics.
Unless specified or you have TSA PreCheck, laptops must be removed and placed in their own separate bin. I find it best to have my laptop in a sleeve in my bag or luggage. Not only is it protected, but it is also easy to take out and put away.
Most of the time, you won’t need to remove cell phones and tablets. Small devices are usually fine to be left in your luggage. However, this is up to the officer’s discretion.
I sometimes hear people asking if their laptop chargers also need to go in the bin. I’ve never seen TSA officials ask for chargers. However, things change often so it’s best to follow what the officer says.
2. Don’t pack the wrong items.
Be careful what you have packed in your luggage. Avoid packing any weapons or items that may be considered weapons, such as toy guns or pepper spray. Also, be careful not to bring any liquids in your carry-on that doesn’t comply with TSA rules.
Alcohol over 3.4 fluid ounces or with over 70 percent alcohol (over 140 proof) is not allowed. Souvenirs or toys with liquid over 3.4 fluid ounces won’t be permitted either. Also, aerosol cans (such as the ones that carry hairspray, dry shampoo, and shaving cream) must be TSA travel-friendly.
For the latest information on what is and isn’t allowed, check out TSA’s website.
3. Avoid wrapping gifts.
If you have a wrapped gift, there’s a good chance that you will need to open it. Save yourself trouble and money by leaving things open for an officer to inspect should they need to.
4. Choose your clothing carefully.
While you definitely want to be comfortable, especially if you’ve got a long flight ahead, wearing clothing that is too loose or bulky may get you extra security screenings. You may even be denied from flying if your clothes have inappropriate imagery or offensive language. Since you are traveling for business, a classic neutral with a sweater or business casual blazer can keep your outfit appropriate.
This also applies to puffy outerwear and belts, though there’s a good chance you’ll have taken it off and dropped it in a bin with the rest of your belongings. Still, if you can, avoid the belt altogether when traveling.
5. Wear appropriate shoes (and socks).
Wear shoes that you can take off and on with ease. You don’t want to hold the line up because you can’t get your shoes back on.
Also, don’t avoid sandals and walking around barefoot. The airport floor sees all kinds of things throughout the day. You don’t want to get an infection.
6. Avoid a lot of jewelry.
Having to take off a lot of jewelry is not ideal. Instead, keep it in your bag until you are past security. Even so, I recommend not bringing a lot of jewelry with you when traveling. You may draw unwanted attention to yourself.
Avoid expensive watches and other excessive items. Avoid the hassle and keep it simple instead.
7. Be cautious with food items.
The 3.4 fluid ounces rule is not just for cosmetics, it also applies to food. Most solid foods can pass through security, but things like jam, alcohol, and sauces over the limits will not. Liquid medications and breast milk are also subject to certain rules.
If you are transporting food, know that you will likely have to put it in its own bin when going through security. Depending on the item, you may be asked to show what you are bringing. Also, if you are transporting frozen food(s), the ice or ice packs must be completely frozen, otherwise you won’t be able to bring them.
8. Don’t make inappropriate comments.
This should go without saying but letting out your frustrations on airport employees will not help you get through security quicker. Being kind will take you a lot further.
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