There are a million and one things to consider whilst travelling through airport security. Do I have any large liquids? Am I wearing the right clothing? Do I have anything they are going to confiscate? Am I at all a target? Even if you are doing everything legally, you for some reason still feel on edge. After all, you are probably going on vacation and don’t want anything to interfere with that.
While you may think you are doing everything right while going through security, there are a number of things you can do that will ensure that you aren’t flagged in order to make the experience as smooth as possible. There are certain things that airport personnel look for to question, so avoiding these things will save you a lot of time and hassle. For one, it’s definitely not a good idea to criticize or joke with the airport staff, ignore carry-on regulations, or forget important travel documents.
So, do you want to speed through customs without getting pulled aside or even worse, into the detention room? I’m pretty positive that none of us do. In order to ensure that you are sitting on the beach and enjoying your vacation in no time, here are some sure-fire ways that you will get flagged by security and endure the annoying process of answering question after question, when you have nothing to hide in the first place.
25 If you look stressed out
If you are a stressed traveller, it’s probably a good idea to stay as mellow as possible whilst going through security. Any suspicious behaviour that includes a stressed or nervous traveller will be flagged immediately. If a traveller seems calm and collected and answers questions confidently, it’s a better look to security and makes their job a lot easier.
Besides, if you have nothing to hide, are friendly and cooperative, there is absolutely no reason to feel stressed.
24 If you joke with the security officers
Airport security takes their jobs very seriously, as they have a huge amount of responsibility to ensure everyone has a safe and smooth travel experience. So, if you are joking with them about touchy subjects, it’s definitely not going to go over well.
As much as you want to make light of the situation and make their day a little better, making insensitive jokes will actually make their job more difficult. Even if it’s a joke that has no reason to be taken seriously, it’s best to keep it to yourself.
23 Criticising the security machines
The security machines are used to ensure that no harmful products make their way into the airport or onto the plane. Although it can be frustrating to follow all the specific protocols for the machines, it’s necessary to do so to ensure your safety.
So, if a security personnel starts to search for bags for any of these items, it is necessary that you cooperate even if you know that you followed the procedures. These machines are high tech and should not be messed with!
22 If you don't follow the liquid requirements
I’m sure we’ve all at one point packed a full-sized shampoo bottle into our carry-on by mistake, and there is nothing worse than that said shampoo being taken away by security. However, the reason there are such strict laws is because smaller liquids are successfully scanned by the machine, while larger liquids are not as easy to read.
Make sure that all of the liquids in your carry-on are the appropriate size before heading to the airport to avoid this happening to you.
21 If you leave unwanted items on
When you go through the security scanners, there are a number of items that you shouldn’t be wearing, including hats, watches, belts, and sometimes even shoes. If you fail to take off any of these items, you will probably get taken to the side to get individually searched.
Wearing a hat when you are going through customs is also a big no-no, as the employees are doing their best to identify you and hats are a way in which to hide part of a person’s characteristics.
20 If you give security a hard time
The absolute last thing that you want to do is to give the security any sort of hassle when they request something of you. If they ask you to take off your hat, do it. If they ask you questions about what’s in your bag, answer politely and without any attitude.
If you start acting rude and giving them a hard time for simply doing their job to keep you safe, they will make your travel experience even more of a pain.
19 If you look disorganized
When you are acting disorganized and have a million and one things in your hand whilst going through security or customs, that will give security the impression that you don’t have your bags organized either. And if you don’t have those organized, than you probably have items that you shouldn’t be carrying in your carry on or luggage.
In this case, they will most likely search your bags and ask you questions about your travel plans. If you look organized and act efficiently, that tells security that you have it together.
18 If you are dressed untidily
If you are dressed in an untidy manner or look ‘dirty’ in any way, you may get questioned while entering a new country. Especially for those who are backpacking and sometimes look a little messy, border patrol may flag those individuals as someone that they want to talk to about their intentions in the country they are visiting.
I mean, we all look like a little bit of a mess while travelling, but try and wear clean clothes and run a brush through your hair.
17 If you travel with coffee
If you are bringing back some coffee beans from the country you have visited, think again. Apparently, the strong smell of coffee is used to mask the smell of certain illegal substances, and your bag is pretty much guaranteed to get searched. This is the case for both checked and carry-on bags, so it’s probably a good idea to forgo bringing back coffee to avoid the hassle at the airport.
They likely won’t take the coffee away from you though, so if you don’t mind getting searched, it might be worth it.
16 If you don't listen to security
Not listening to security is pretty much the worst thing you can do, as they won’t take any sass from anyone and will not hesitate to make your life a lot harder. Things like not bothering to take your laptop or toiletry bag out of your carry-on during the screening process will only frustrate the security more and will make your travel experience a lot more delayed.
They deal with a lot of annoying people throughout the day, so don’t be one of them.
15 If you travel with out of the ordinary items
Items that are out of the ordinary to travel with will likely be flagged by security, even if they are perfectly safe and legal to travel with. For example, a lot of business people like to carry a stapler around to use on the road, which is not something that they see every day. You may also be questioned by security about unusual souvenirs that you have collected on your travels.
And if they can’t tell what it is on the scanning monitor, they will always check your bag just in case.
14 If you switch lines
When you go through customs or security, there is usually a person there that is directing people about which line to go to, and it’s best that you follow what this person is saying. If you are caught going into another line, skip the line, or get out of line to get to a friend or family member, you may be flagged and get into trouble.
That is considered suspicious activity to airport personnel, as it doesn’t make sense that someone would want to be in a different line unless they were trying to hide or avoid something.
13 If you are carrying a lot of cash
As you probably know, there are strict laws whilst travelling that include a maximum amount of cash that is allowed to be brought from one country to another. There have been many cases where individuals are trying to sneak a large amount of money over the border (I’m talking millions) in an effort to make an illegal transaction that cannot be tracked.
Because of this, if you have a large amount of cash on hand, you may get questioned about it.
12 Not having proof of medication
If you are bringing medication overseas and don’t have proof from a doctor that it is prescribed to you, than it may get taken away from you whilst going through security. Security wants to ensure that the medication you are carrying is for you and was obtained legally, and not used recreationally in any way.
It’s probably a good idea that you bring proof just in case this happens and you have no way of getting this medication in a foreign country.
11 Not following country regulations
Visiting a new country obviously means there are new laws that you have to be aware of. Even if you are just in the airport for a stopover, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the country’s regulations to avoid any trouble. Even if the airport officials speak English, there are certain hand gestures, as well as ways of speaking and presenting yourself that are extremely different.
Make sure you are aware of this to ensure respect is given and you aren’t flagged for unusual behavior.
10 Carrying an electric toothbrush
Believe it or not, carrying an electric toothbrush could give you issues whilst going through security. There have been cases where certain brands that carry lithium batteries have actually exploded whilst in the air. This isn’t the case for every brand, but it’s probably a good idea to leave it behind or in your checked bag.
You definitely wouldn’t want your expensive electric toothbrush to be taken from you by security, so opt for a travel size while on vacation to avoid that.
9 If you have a certain phone brand
Another item that has been known to combust while in the cabin is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. In 2017, this device was exploding due to faulty batteries and overheating. While Samsung has since then pulled the plug altogether on this item, it was once a huge red flag for airport security and is still iffy today.
While the company insists that 96% of the phones have been returned, there may still be a few floating out there that could explode at any time.
8 If you are travelling alone
Even though travelling alone is extremely common for both personal and business purposes, you are still more likely to get pulled aside compared to if you were travelling with a group. A single man will be flagged before a family with two little kids does, simply because someone who is travelling solo is riskier for threats to the plane.
Another reason is that you can more efficiently check more groups of travellers if you are targeting one person at a time.
7 If your laptop is not charged
Apparently, if you are unable to successfully power up your laptop by request of a security official, that laptop could be confiscated from you. The reason for this is that security may have to do additional screening on electronic devices to ensure they haven’t been modified or tampered with to cause harm.
Refusal to unlock your device and co-operate with officials could deny you entry into the country. While this isn’t a regular occurrence, it’s still a good idea to have all of your devices charged and ready to go.
6 Facial hair can be an issue
As discriminatory as this one is, it’s definitely a reality that those with facial hair that hides features of their face or more likely to get questioned. An individual with facial hair could look dramatically different compared to when they are clean shaven, therefore customs need to ensure that you are who you say you are.
This may include a couple more questions than usual, but nothing majorly attacking you. The best thing to do is to cooperate with the officials and answer everything they need to know.
5 Joking about inappropriate topics
Making any sort of joke about topics that are sensitive in an airport is pretty much the worst thing you could do. With all of the bad things happening in this world, security definitely does not take anything lightly (and they definitely don’t think it’s comical).
They are essentially in charge of the safety of their country as well as everyone stepping foot in that airport, and will not hesitate to take you aside for questioning or refuse you to get on a plane.
4 Travelling with too much food
Bringing a ton of food through security for your flight may result in it being taken away, depending on what it is. Most packaged food is fine, but fresh food made at home to save money at the airport may be flagged.
Also, failing to declare a food item leftover from your flight that you are bringing into a new country can result in a hefty fine from customs. This is more common with fresh food, rather than packaged candy or chips.
3 Not emptying your water bottle
There are always a million and one signs while you are in line for security, reminding you to either drink your water or dump it on at the dumping stations. Failure to do this will result in a cranky security guard as well as your bag being searched. Even if you have an empty plastic water bottle that you are re-using, they may toss it.
A great way to avoid this is to always travel with a reusable water bottle that is refillable throughout the airport, so you won’t be mad about dumping your newly bought bottle of water.
2 Not checking your children's bags
Travelling with kids can be stressful enough, you don't want to have to be dealing with items getting flagged in their bags. If you are a travelling parent, it’s a good idea to inspect your child’s bags if they are the one packing them. Certain items such as craft scissors or toy weapons might get confiscated, no matter how safe they really are.
To avoid being flagged the airport, make sure to check the bags thoroughly. Or better yet, pack the bags yourself or supervise your child doing so, to avoid previous items getting taken.
1 Not having proof of travel insurance
It is possible that you may be asked for proof of travel insurance whilst going through border control. In some cases, a country will not allow you to enter unless you have insurance, and they may need the documents to prove it. Even if you have insurance but don’t have proof, you may still be refused by the border control.
Every country has different regulations, but it’s still a good idea to have the document on hand to avoid being held at the border.