Periodically, I like to check out the TSA blog to see if there are any updated guidelines, and find out what crazy things people have tried to bring through security. This time did not disappoint! While there aren’t any new guidelines, there is a list of the top ten crazy things found at security checkpoints in 2011. Snakes! Science projects! Tactical spikes! Landmines! And the list goes on. Wow.
In honor of the insane stuff found last year, I wanted to give a quick refresh on going through security efficiently. These are the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to get through the lines without slowing things down.
Before your trip:
- If you haven’t traveled in a while, even just a few months, go online to the TSA website to catch up with the latest guidelines.
- Pack neatly! If for some reason they have to search your bag, it will be much easier if the suitcase is not a chaotic mess.
- When you are packing, make sure your toiletry bag and laptop are easily accessible.
The day of:
- Wear slip on shoes that are easy to put on and take off.
- Avoid large jewelry (or metal shirts. Sigh) or anything else that will set off the metal detector.
Before entering the line:
- Get rid of all bottles of water or any other large amounts of liquid in your bag.
- Get out your travel documents and identification before you get to the TSA agent.
Going through the X-ray machine and metal detector:
- Once you get to the X-ray line, get your stuff out, even if you don’t have bins yet. The usual things that need to go through the X-ray machine separately are:
- Plastic bag of liquids (one quart size Ziploc bag, nothing over 3.4 ounces)
- Laptop and anything else that is a large electronic item, such as DVD player or gaming console
- Ideally when you get to the x-ray machine line you will have everything ready, or at least easy to get to. Know how many bins you will need (I need two: one for my laptop, one for my purse, toiletries, and coat; shoes go on the conveyor belt) and get them out, stacked. I put all the things in one bin, with my shoes and laptop on top. This conserves room on the tables and allows other people to get their stuff together. Once you are close to the x-ray machine, separate the bins and put your laptop in the empty one.
- Once you get to the actual x-ray machine, put your shoes through first Then your laptop bin, then your purse bin, and finally your suitcase. Put your suitcase on the belt handle first for easy pick up on the other side.
- Make sure you don’t have anything in your pockets. If you do, put it all into your bag, not loose in a bin. This will speed up things on the other side.
Going through the Body Scanner:
- Make sure you take everything out of your pockets—pieces of paper, hair bands, gum, everything.
- If you have on a long necklace, either remove it or move it to your back.
After going through the machines:
- When you get to the other side of the x-ray machine, pick up your shoes and drop them on the floor. While you are slipping your feet into them grab your laptop and toiletry bag in one hand, put your purse over your shoulder, and pick up your suitcase and put it on the ground. Walk everything over to the convenient bench just a few feet away so that you don’t hold up the line putting all your things in their right places.
- If the above scenario doesn’t work for you, grab your bins and your suitcase and move over to the bench.
Readers, what are your tips for getting through security quickly and easily?