8 Steps To Make Going Through Airport Security A Breeze

airport security rules

Unsplash/Briana Tozour

Airport security is a giant pain. We’re not going to pretend it’s fun. But you can make life easier on yourself — and everyone else in the line behind you. In the United States, you’re dealing with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for airport security. But the same rules apply to traveling abroad through international airports. So prep your carry-on and use these tips to breeze through security.

1. Have your boarding pass and I.D. out as soon as you get in line.

Security lines are unpredictable. Sometimes they can drag, but sometimes they can speed along. You don’t want to be the person standing at the TSA desk without your passport, digging through your purse.

2. Stow your important stuff together.

Once you’re past the checkpoint and onto the line for the actual screening, you want to put your passport and I.D. inside your bag. Don’t just toss it into the bin with the rest of your stuff. Instead, pick a pocket of your purse, backpack or suitcase and put everything critical together. That means your boarding pass and I.D., as well as your wallet.

P.S. Cell phones belong in this spot, too, not in your back pocket. Take off your headphones and put down your phone. You’ll survive the 10 minutes before your turn in the X-ray machine without watching the Instagram stories you scrolled past on your first two passes on the app.

airport security rules

Unsplash/Ken Yam

3. Make sure your laptop is easily accessible.

Your laptop has to come out when you go through security. It’s best to pack it in a bag that has a laptop sleeve so you can easily slide your computer in and out of your bag without holding up the security line.

The same applies to bigger electronic devices, such as large digital cameras or tablets. It varies from airport to airport, but you should be ready. So don’t bury that DSLR at the bottom of your carry-on.

4. Pack your liquids correctly.

Remember the liquids rule: Any liquids, aerosols or gels must be in containers smaller than 3.4 ounces. All these liquids have to fit into one quart-sized bag. You’ll be TSA’s favorite passenger if you have this all prepped before even stepping into the airport.

If you’re like us and bring a reusable water bottle for the flight, double check to make sure that it’s empty before queueing up for the security check. Or drink it down before you hit the conveyor belt pre-screening.

5. Dress in layers.

You can’t wear your coat through the X-ray machine. But you also might want to avoid bulky sweaters (even though they’re comfy AF for a plane ride). Heavy fabrics can confuse the security machines and make you a candidate for awkward pat-downs — not the end of the world, but definitely not fun. Opt for layered outfits so you can strip down to some pants and a t-shirt or tank top to go through the machine.

airport security rules

Unsplash/Ashim D Silva

6. Skip the lace-up shoes.

Your hiking boots or combat boots are probably not the best bet for the security line. All that time lacing up and lacing down will drive everyone behind you in line crazy. If you really need to save space in your suitcase (and we get it, we’ve been there), just make sure you a pro at getting those shoes on and off.

7. Wear socks.

While we’re talking shoes, don’t wear sandals unless you’re far from germaphobic. You’ll have to be barefoot to walk through the X-ray machine. At the very least, that will take a couple of minutes, not to mention the wait time. Socks are better.

8. Pay attention to the security screening.

You can’t snooze through your turn in the X-ray machines (or full-body scans, depending on which airport you’re traveling from). Follow directions at the security checkpoint and throughout the screening process. You may need to go through additional screenings, like drug swabs on your hands or a search through your bags, and you don’t want to hold up the line.

Oh, and remember: these are metal detectors. That means you should remove any jewelry and take those freaking keys out of your pockets.


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