Quick Security Tip: Push your stuff through!

This past Saturday, I flew home from Chicago. It’s unusual for me to fly for work on the weekend, but meetings in Chicago meant I got to see my sisters so it was okay. Until I got to the airport, that is. In the space of thirty minutes, I saw multiple things that demanded to be written about. So here is the first one.

I was in the security line, pulling out my laptop and liquids bag, and getting my bins ready. Standing in the middle of the table before the x-ray machine, I finished taking off my shoes, then realized none of the bins and suitcases in front of me were moving. Thinking that there was a hold up in the line, I looked for the people ahead in line. Except they weren’t there. Confused, I looked around, thinking I had missed them. Until I saw them on the other side of the metal detector, standing by the x-ray machine, waiting for their bags.

Wait, my brain said. They went through the metal detector without pushing their bags and bins through? And they are now looking back, concerned about where their belongings are? Resigned (because what else can I do?), I pushed their stuff through as the lady behind me whispered to her husband, “They didn’t push their things through? How strange!” Glad it wasn’t just me thinking that.

For two reasons, I highly, highly recommend that you wait to go through the metal detector until your bags are through the x-ray machine. First, simple etiquette. No one wants to be responsible for moving someone else’s things through! The second reason is that if your belongings are out of your sight, someone could steal something. No reason to tempt fate!

Readers, what are your thoughts on this? Should people be responsible for moving their own belongings through the x-ray machine? Or should we all work together and help each other out?


  1. I agree. They should also have jackets removed before they get up to the location of the bins to speed everyone through security. Just because you may not be in a hurry, the person behind you might be!

  2. I hate when people do that. I simply take my stuff and put it ahead of theirs if I can, otherwise I tell the TSA person playing solitaire, I mean watching the xray screens. I don’t like when strangers handle my luggage so I tend not to do it myself.

  3. I think I’ve seen this a few times before…but it’s usually just one person. I think next time I see this, I’ll probably just put my stuff ahead of that person’s. I may even remove their stuff from the belt altogether and set it on the ground 😛

    all in all though, this isn’t as annoying as the hordes people who aren’t in the 1st or 2nd boarding group for a flight, yet as soon as they start boarding children, they’ve all jumped up and clogged the line area, making it impossible to tell who is actually in line for a boarding group and who isn’t. Haven’t they learned…if you don’t have status, then you’re gonna have to wait in line and hope there is still overhead space. Maybe you can post about that too (if that ever bugs you) 🙂 ?

  4. Amazingly when I went through ORD and IAD recently I was *told* by the security agent to wait until all my stuff had entered the scanner before going under the arch.

    Logic and the TSA? Whatever next?

  5. Wow, taking people stuff and putting it on the floor? That is simply rude. Frankly, if you travel a lot, you know not to leave getting thru security to the last minute so there is no reason for you to be in such a hurry to get through security – unless of course your “need for speed” is simply a need to impress others with how “important” you think you are. And if you are that “important” you are going through the airline’s frequent flyer line – so the point is really mute.
    I’ve always thought that the mark of a truly experienced traveler is one who tactfully helps others who aren’t so experienced. On one of my last trips there was an older couple ahead of me who clearly weren’t quite “up to speed” with the whole security drill. I gently and respectifully “coached them through it” – after loading their bins they turned to go through the metal detector and I suggested that they should push their bins through – they were grateful for the tip and I accomplished two things – got through security a bit more quickly and saved them bit of embarrassment.
    Bottom line is that many people don’t travel that often and for those of us that do, we have the choice to either make the experience better or worse for ourselves and those around us. I choose to try and make it better.

  6. I’m of two minds with this. I do push my bags and bins through, but then I get nervous as I’m held up at the scanner or arch (or the person in front of me is) because I can’t see my things and anyone could pick them up.

    I generally try to send my bins through with the most important items (laptop, phone) in the center, so that I have a chance to get through the scan and pick them up.

  7. I completely agree with Amy. I sometimes am beckoned through the scanner by TSA before my belongings have entered the machine, and I ignore them and stare at my stuff until it goes through. What I hate, though, is when I put my stuff through, and someone’s bag in front of me gets recalled, and they reverse the conveyor belt. Now I’m through the metal detector, but my bags are hanging out on the other side for anyone to snag. Literally makes me nervous everytime.

    I now put my stuff through in this order: shoes first (so I can put them on instantly on the other side), then bag, then purse (so its the last item out and the odds are good that I’ll be waiting to pick it up.

  8. My company actually has a security policy that we are supposed to stay with the laptop in airport security (then again, we have a policy for everything under the sun).

    Also, Laurel, you are my sister in organization! I totally organize my conveyor belt strategy the same way!

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