Security Etiquette Round Up

When you arrive at the airport, one of the first obstacles you encounter to getting to your final destination is the security line. Hundreds of people, all trying to get through that rope line to prove who they are, take off their shoes, send all of their belongings through an X-ray machine, then go through a scanner to make sure they’re not carrying anything dangerous…..well, it’s no wonder things can get a little testy! But don’t worry, I’ve put together a list of tips to help us get through that testing ground with our dignity and sanity intact (sort of).

  • Be prepared to go smoothly through security.  Know what the current security rules are for the location you are traveling through, and follow them.
  • If there is an option to choose your security line based on your level of experience, please choose honestly.
  • Have your boarding pass and ID out for the TSO before you get to the front of the line. Don’t hold up the line putting it away; wait until you get to the next line.
  • Have everything easily accessible (laptop, bag of toiletries, etc) so that you are ready to go as soon as you get to the bins. Have all change out of your pocket, preferably in a pocket in your bag.
  • 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. Second, if your belongings are out of your sight, someone could steal something. No reason to tempt fate!
  • If for any reason you can’t go through the metal detector or body scanner, let the agent know up front. This may take some extra time, so be prepared.
  • Once through security, grab your stuff and move it over to the bench or table nearby. Please don’t hold up the line so you can dig your change out of the bin!
  • Remember (and this can be hard for the seasoned travelers, myself included) that not everyone flies every week. Some people will simply take longer than we’d like, and getting frustrated with them won’t make your own trip go any more smoothly.

For a full list of tips to make going through security smooth as silk, check out my Security Refresh from January.

Readers, what do you think? Did I miss anything? What is important to you, etiquette wise, when going through security?

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  1. Good tipsfor in general. However at more than a few airports there is no bench or table nearby or available to collect your stuff. Plus I’ve been scolded by TSA for placing belongings on ‘their’ table. It seems like the whole ‘putting yourself together’ part isn’t thought through at some of these checkpoints. How about more than one chair at the exit for 3 lanes for example?

  2. I’ve been scolded for refusing to go through the metal detector until my belongings are in the chute. So irritating!

  3. I will not be rushed post-security while I replace my laptop, CPAP, phone, keys, belt, shoes, et al. I’m forced to part with them against my will so I will take the time necessary to replace them in their proper locations.

    If there’s a nearby place I can move to in deference to other pax dealing with this same headache, I will. Otherwise I will remain where I am while I sort things out. Also under no non-life-threatening circumstance will I move away from the bins until I’ve verified nothing of great importance has been stolen.

  4. Interesting stuff, but applicable pretty much only to the USA. Most of the tips would not only be unnecessary but also frowned upon in other parts of the world. For example, in India you should repack on the belt itself and not remove your screened bags until the X-ray screener has rubber stamped the carry-on tag. Similarly, in the UAE, you must go through the metal detector before they will screen your bags via the X-Ray. This is so because if you alert, you have to go back and put any offending metal into your bag.

    Nothing is more annoying to be at an airport in Europe or Africa and to have the Americans in front of you desperately struggling to take off their shoes and extract their laptops when there is absolutely no requirement to do so.

    The only rule which is universally applicable is the first one – “Know what the current security rules are for the location you are traveling through, and follow them.”

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