Nobody likes going through airport security. It can be quite time consuming, it’s sometimes nerve-wracking, and you always just want to get it over and done with. Despite the fact that it’s certainly not the highlight of our travels, going through the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) at the airport is a necessity for all our safety.
Even if it’s necessary, it doesn’t mean that the procedure won’t get on our nerves, especially when we’re running late and can’t afford to miss our flight. We’ve all seen those people who just make life a little more difficult for themselves while in line – like the guy who thinks that joking about national security is funny, or the lady who decided to wear metallic accessories, or the couple that only starts looking for their paperwork once they get to in front of the line. Who does that? Well, inexperienced flyers, that’s the only way we can explain it.
Since you’re into traveling and are probably going to be having the time of your life, seeing all the corners of the earth, you’re going to go through a whole lot of TSA in the process. Read below as we take you through all you need to know about how to make going through security a breeze, and then the things to avoid that could land you in trouble.
We’re now starting the list of the 10 things that will land you in trouble with the TSA. First, we had to go with looking stressed. Looking stressed will inevitably make you look suspicious because – why are you stressed out about going through airport security? What are you trying to hide? Those are the questions officers will ask themselves. Keep in mind that their job is just what needs to get done and if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. So do yourself a favor and just relax. The process will be over soon.
Oh boy, this one will get you into real trouble. You might think this is common sense but we’ve all heard the saying – Common Sense is not so common. So, the reason why you might get a little grabby with other people’s stuff is maybe because you think that you can help the process along by moving people’s belongings. Nope, you won’t be. Instead, you’ll be starting arguments you were not ready for. Do yourself a favor and keep your hands only on your property.
You might think that wearing sandals will make life a whole lot easier as you’ll be able to quickly slip them on and off when going through the screening. We get it, they are very practical, however, trust us on this one – Don’t do it. It may not be a security risk and the TSA may not have a problem with it but it’s definitely a health hazard. Two words – Athletes’ Foot. You definitely don’t want to expose your feet to that.
First of all, National Security is no joke so laughing about such a serious matter is really disturbing. Secondly, these people don’t know you. You may think that you’re helping to lighten the mood and get everyone relaxed by cracking a joke or two but in fact, you’re placing a major target on you as the officials will now find you suspicious because in their minds – the only person who jokes about national security is someone who thinks it’s not that big of a deal. You don’t want to give off that impression.
So, earlier we detailed how to pack your liquids, gels, and prescriptions meds. We want to now stress the importance of packing these items correctly as not doing so will definitely land you in unnecessary trouble. You definitely don’t want to waste your time, annoy other passengers, and the TSA so just follow the rules, okay? If you want detailed specifications for packing these individual items, checking out the rules and regulations online for your specific airline will definitely come in handy.
So you’re running a little late. You packed in a hurry, and are now rushing to the airport, afraid you might miss your flight. You quickly check in and are now waiting in line for the TSA officers when you suddenly realize that you have an item on you that you know you shouldn’t have in your carry-on. If this happens to you – breathe.
All you need to do is simply explain to the officers that you forget to check it in. You’re human, you make mistakes, and you can bet that you are certainly not the first person on earth to forget to check something in. Being open about this, as opposed to trying to hide it from the officers, will make the process much quicker as no one will suspect you of trying to do anything strange.
This one on the list is especially for those people who wait until they get to the front of the line to take off clothing items they know they are going to have to. Why do you do that? For instance, have you seen the people at the airport that wait until they are in front to take off their shoes? Really people. Don’t do that. As we mentioned earlier, wearing socks is an excellent item to have on as this will allow you to easily take off your shoes ahead of time and not be touching the floor with your bare feet.
We mentioned a little earlier that you need to be polite when dealing with the TSA. We just had to add this one on the list because honestly, it can be a little odd to see how people speak to the TSA sometimes. At the end of the day, remember that they are just doing their jobs and their job is to make sure that you and everyone else on your plane are safe. Now, why on earth would like to give such a person a hard time? Just follow the rules and you’ll be in and out of the line as soon as possible.
Number 2 on our list will definitely get you into real trouble. Ladies and gentlemen, for your own good, don’t hide anything. Don’t even think of it. If you’ve got a tablet buried deep in your luggage and are not in the mood to take it out, sorry – you’re just going to have to. If you didn’t pack your liquids according to the airline specifications, sorry – you’re just going to have to get the right containers. In addition, don’t hide any illegal items. Why on earth would you want trouble with the law? They will catch you so just don’t do it.
Most of the electronics that people decide to have in their carry-ons are items such as laptops and cameras. When going through airport security, you’ll have to take each one out of their case or bag and then place onto the belt. Having a TSA approved laptop bag will help this process as the items can be easily opened and screened.
If you have a film camera on you, remember to request a hand inspection as going through the screening machines may affect the film. You won’t have to worry if you have a digital camera with a memory card.
We’re starting our list off with this one because honestly, there’s nothing more irritating than running late and arriving at the airport, only to find that the TSA lines are super long. If you’re handling your own flight bookings, aim to book flights during off-peak times.
It goes without saying that the holidays sees crowds of people make their ways to the airport but to help you out, Reader’s Digest highlights that “If you’re flying on one of the most popular travel days, consider flying during off-peak travel time for that airport. At most U.S airports, flights departing between 6:00am and 11:59am experience the least delays and best on-time performance.”
In your everyday life, you’re able to keep track of all your important documentation. As an adult, you have a system in place where you know where you keep your license, your passport, and any other important documents. But something happens as soon as you set foot at the airport. Suddenly, you’ve somehow managed to put your boarding pass all the way underneath all your luggage, you have your passport in the deepest pocket of your jacket, and as soon as you’re asked for them at the airport, you have no idea where to start. Getting all your paperwork ready and in hand, before you arrive at the front of the line will save both yours and everybody else's some time.
So, rushing to join the shorter line normally means that you’ll arrive at the front quicker but, as you’ve probably experienced with the TSA before, that’s not always the case. This is why it’s important to be smart when choosing your line. Smarter Travel explains that “Most large airports have multiple checkpoint entries for any given terminal, and some may be busier than others at certain times of the day…The TSA offers travelers an app called MyTSA that you can use to check security wait times based on historical data.”
Remember how it was like when you first started traveling and went through airport security for the first time? It took forever because you didn’t know what to do or what to expect. This is why you must always scan the lines to check which people are looking a little lost and confused as they are amateur travelers – avoid those lines. Families with small children can also take quite a while to go through security as the parents will always have quite a number of baby or child items, in addition to theirs, to be scanned. We love our elderly, however, they are sometimes not the quickest of people and if you’re behind them and in a rush, you’ll quickly become frustrated.
As we mentioned when we began this article, we know that going through the TSA is certainly not going to be the highlight of your trip however, it has to be done. There’s nothing you can do about it and being rude or difficult to the TSA officers is just unnecessary. In addition to arriving a little earlier to take into account going through security, you can also bring some snacks along so that you’re not grumpy and hungry while waiting.
This is an easy one to do but so often, people forget to empty their pockets. If you pass through the scan with anything in your pockets, without a doubt, you will either have to go through a pat down, the screening wand will be used or, you might just have to step back, and then empty your pockets, only to go through the screening again. Whichever outcome happens, they all mean that you’ll be spending more time in line and you definitely don’t want that so – Remember to empty to pockets.
Since you already know that you’re going to have to take a lot of your clothing items off, it makes sense to arrive there prepared. Eaglecreek advises people to “put valuables like jewelry and keys in the pockets of your jacket before you put your jacket through the X-ray machine.” Regarding shoes, you know that you’re going to have to take them off when going through metal detectors. Ladies can invest in a ballet flat that easily slips on and off and men can look into getting themselves slip-on loafers.
The PreCheck program is probably one of the best ways to make going through airport security a breeze as you won’t have do a lot of the stuff that other flyers have to adhere to. Qualifying for it includes an in-depth background check of frequent flyers and a risk assessment.
Before you think it’s too invasive, consider the fact that once you’ve been cleared, you won’t have to remove items such as your light jackets, shoes, and belts when passing through security. It will also not be necessary to place in separate bins your laptop and 3-1-1 compliant bags.
TripSavvy highlights that “not all airports have TSA PreCheck lanes open all the time, and not all areas of every airport have PreCheck lanes available.” We know that having a ticket market “TSA PreCheck” can often help the process, but as mentioned, the lanes may not always be opened or available. Do yourself a favor and arrive early anyway, regardless of whether or not you’ve got a PreCheck ticket so that if the lanes are not open, going through the normal lines will not frustrate the living daylights out of you.
The improper packing of liquids and gels is what gets most people stuck in line, and annoying everyone, including the officers. Do yourself a favor and don’t be that guy or girl who holds everyone up because they didn’t do their research and they didn't pack properly.
TripSavvy explains that “all liquid and gel items must be 3.4 ounces or smaller containers. Every liquid and gel product you carry into the passenger compartment must meet this requirement and fit into a single, one-quart zip-closure clear plastic bag.”
In your everyday life, you wouldn’t think of placing together your hair gel with your prescription meds. You also wouldn’t think of packing together your sports drinks with your shampoo. It just doesn’t make sense and you know this very well, however, when packing for a trip, sometimes the rules we use in our everyday lives seem to be thrown way out of the window. With this one in particular – you’ll want to package these separately, in clear containers, and then once you get to the front of the line, explain the items to the officer and request a visual, rather than screening check if that may harm them.
You know that you’re going to have to show them to security so why on earth would you want to leave them deep in the bag? You don’t want to be holding the line up as you dig in your carryon, trying to get items out that should have been easily accessible in the first place. Once you’ve correctly packaged your liquids and gels in clear bags, make sure that when you open your carryon, they are right on top. This will speed the process up as you won’t have to add digging in your bag to the process.
So once you’re through the screening, make sure that you grab your important items first. Which ones come first since everything you have on you is pretty much important? Well, putting your jacket and belt back on is the first thing to do. You can then slip on your shoes and then quickly grab your electronics and return them to their cases. It is quite common for people to do this while in line but it’s important to aim to get out the way as quickly as possible, even if it means you haven’t slipped your shoes back on yet. Remember that the less congestion there is, the quicker the whole process will be not only for you but for everyone else behind you.
It’s the digital age and everyone is pretty much glued to their electronic devices. Technology has made it easy to capture each and every moment of our trips and share with our friends and family. However, consider the fact that each electronic item you carry on, will need to be taken out of its bag or case and then placed separately into the bins on the belt. This is very time-consuming. Checking in electronics that you won’t be using on the plane, such as DVD players, extra tablet, battery packs, etc., will make the process much quicker.
You would think that this one is an obvious one but you’d be surprised at how many people go back and forth through the metal detectors as they take off one metal item at a time. Again – a huge time waster and you’ll not only be making yourself frustrated but the TSA, as well as other passengers waiting in line. The best thing to do is to avoid metallics all together, however, if you can’t, try to keep them to a bare minimum. For instance, you may need a belt so that’s okay but do you really need those hundreds of metal bangles on each arm?
References: Reader's Digest, Smarter Travel, EagleCreek, TripSavvy