Getting through security easily

This time of year there are more inexperienced travelers than usual. While security can be very stressful for people who are not used to it, there are strategies to get through security with a minimum of fuss.

Before you go through. Get your ID and boarding pass in your hand and ready to show to the TSA officer. Also, make sure the items that will need to come out of your bag are in an accessible location. Typically your laptop and liquids bag are the only things that need to go through separately.  Put everything that’s in your pockets into your bag.

While you go through. Once you get to the X-ray line, get your stuff out even if you don’t have bins yet. Once you get your bins put your shoes and liquids bag in one bin and your laptop in another. You don’t need to take out your tablets, eReaders, or cameras. You also don’t have to take off your glasses or jewelry.

Once you get to the actual X-ray machine, put your shoes through first, followed by your personal item, then suitcase, and last of all your laptop. This way your laptop is in your sight as long as possible. Put your suitcase handle-first for easy pick up on the other side.

After you go through. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. Once you’ve gone through the scanner, immediately go grab your bins and move to the benches out of the way. I have found the easiest way to do this is to drop your shoes on the ground while waiting for your other things. Step into them while you slide your purse/briefcase onto your shoulder, then pick up your suitcase and bins. If you don’t have shoes you can just step into, just carry all of your bins over to the bench. Please do not pick individual items out of the bins—pick them up and get out of the way. If everyone did this, security would go much more quickly.

Yes, Global Entry and TSA Pre-check are the fastest ways through security, but with a little planning and strategy security can go relatively smoothly for any traveler.

Readers, what are your tricks for making airport security less stressful?



  1. Last tip is key! So many people are just inconsiderate and stand at the mouth of the x-ray machine holding everything up stuffing everything in their pockets.

    Another good tip during wintertime is to stuff as much stuff in your jacket pockets as possible. Rather than have my wallet, phone, and loose change floating around in the bin, I put them in my jacket pockets. Then when the bin with my jacket comes out of the machine I am able to just put my jacket on and put it in my various other pockets once I am away from the machine. Obviously this tip is more geared towards men as women are just able to put all of their stuff in their purse.

  2. How do you carry 2 or 3 bins ( with coat and scarf often need 3 bins), a suitcase and a briefcase to the benches? I’ve tried this and 1) dropped everything or 2) left my computer behind. I still grab everything quickly and redress at table, but now I never leave the X-ray area until my computer is back in my briefcase.

  3. Mary–consolidate the bins once they come out of xray. Put the coat/scarf, etc. on top of the laptop in one bin.

    One other note…listen to the TSA agents that are yelling out instructions. Sometimes there are differences in procedures at that time or that airport. For example, regular policy is that iPads stay in your bag, but one night they kept repeating that they must come out (whether it was specific to that airport or due to a “threat” like they said I’ll never know for sure). Also, some airports specifically request that shoes are placed directly on the belt and not in bins.

    It’s all about being aware before you go and alert throughout the process.

  4. Too complicated. I just carry my smartphone and just login to my remote PC. I don’t worry about encryption or forgetting files. All my work resides on a remote machine which runs faster and safer than the one I’m carrying through the metal detectors and x-ray machines. I don’t even care if I lose my travel laptop, cuz I can use any business lounge desktop. When I need a big screen I just broadcast my smartphone to my hotel room TV and use my remote PC. But this convenience doesn’t come by cheap, $200/mo. To me.. I think it’s worth all the hassle and fear of losing my files.

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