Last Updated on October 23, 2020
Airports can be pretty stressful. Especially when you are a few minutes late and you run into an endless line at the security checkpoint. There you are, standing in line, looking at your watch impatiently as the other passengers slowly advance.
One by one. To make matters worse, all sorts of problems happen that further delay the process for everyone else.
But that kind of control is absolutely necessary to keep air travel as secure as possible. Ever since the 9/11 events, airport security has been extremely strict, both in the United States and the rest of the world.
And nowadays there are many more passengers flying than ever, due to the thousands of cheap flights provided by the airlines every month. Given these factors, going through the TSA security checkpoints can be a long and exhausting process… if done wrong.
In this article, we will give you a few tips to help you get through it as smoothly as possible. Remember, by following these tips you are making things easier both for you and for everyone else standing in line with you.
Table of Contents
1. Metal accessories
As you know, you are going to have to walk through a metal detector before you board the plane. And as the name suggests, the device will sound an alarm if you have any kind of metal on you.
That’s why you shouldn’t wear bulky jewelry, lapel pins, hair accessories, or belts with metal clasps to an airport (security agents might ask you to remove your belt even if it doesn’t have any metal part). If you do, you will have to remove them and it will definitely delay the whole process.
Most metal detectors are calibrated to ignore small amounts of metal, so if you have a gold wedding ring, a small piercing, or gold filling in your teeth, you most likely can keep them while going through security. But keep in mind that if the alarm goes off, you will have to undergo additional security screening.
2. Coats and jackets
You are always required to take off your jacket before walking through the metal detector, so please make sure you put it in the screening bin alongside your other belongings.
Sure, if you forget to take it off you only lose a couple of seconds – the time it takes for the agent to warn you, and for you to take it off and put it in the right place. But if the majority of people make this mistake, the total time lost becomes quite significant.
3. Shoes that are difficult to take off
If you have a pair of shoes that take more than one minute to take off and put back on, please don’t wear them when you have to catch a plane.
Passengers are required to take off their shoes and put them in the bin to go through the airport security scanner. And you don’t want to be the one struggling to take off the shoes and slowing down all the passengers behind you, do you?
There are two additional reasons to wear comfortable shoes when traveling by plane: you will probably have to walk more than usual that day (some airports are huge); and since you will spend a few hours locked inside a plane, you should be able to discreetly take off your shoes during the flight.
4. Offensive clothes
You might have a funny t-shirt with an ironically offensive message that you really like. But do you really have to wear it to the airport?
Security agents may select you for a more intensive screening process if they think that the message on your shirt or jacket is threatening or offensive. And it makes perfect sense if you think about it.
5. Loose clothes
There is nothing wrong with loose-fitting clothes. But TSA agents have clear instructions to be suspicious of people wearing them since they can be used to hide prohibited items.
These clothes include baggy pants, loose dresses, flowy shirts, heavy sweaters, and even religious garments such as the abaya. Just avoid wearing baggy clothes at the airport. Unless you want a security agent inspecting every inch of them.
Bottom line: remember that it is just a plane ride, not a fashion show. The simpler your travel outfit, the better. On these occasions, the most important thing is to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. That’s it.
Other additional tips
There are other things besides your clothing that can slow down the boarding process. Here are some quick additional tips to help you out:
– Don’t pack more than 100 ml of any liquid: everyone should know this by now. You aren’t allowed to travel with more than 100 ml of any liquid. This includes full-sized bottles of shampoo, water, and perfume, for example (and doesn’t include things like medications and breast milk, so you better check out the TSA policy for more information on what you are allowed to bring on your carry-on luggage). Also, keep all your liquids and gels stored in a handy place since you will have to remove them from your luggage to put them in the screening bin.
– Don’t remove things that you don’t need to: you don’t need to take all electronic devices out of your travel luggage to be individually scanned. Only large electronics such as laptops and tablets need to go into the bin, so keep your electric toothbrush inside your luggage.
– Use the TSA Precheck program: if you travel within the United States very frequently, you should consider applying to TSA’s Precheck program (it costs about 85$). The TSA will do an extensive background check on you, and once they found out you are not a security threat you will get certain benefits at airports. Precheck members don’t need to remove belts, shoes, jackets or other items from their carry-on luggage.
– Be nice: be friendly to security agents and always follow their orders. After all, they are just doing their job.
Oh, and don’t forget your boarding pass and ID – those are rookie mistakes, we know. But they can happen even to the most experienced travelers.