Don’t block the airport security line because you’re looking at your phone

In my near-decade of writing about business travel I’ve written about getting through security a lot. It is one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of travel for newbies, but planning ahead and using a few simple strategies can make airport security go as smoothly as possible.

TSA Pre-check has helped a ton, allowing frequent travelers to speed through security. This gives more time to those who aren’t as familiar with the process, in theory reducing stress for everyone.

Unfortunately, there are always those who go through Pre-check who don’t know basic etiquette or don’t care about making things easier for others. One wouldn’t be surprised to find people who don’t know travel etiquette in the non-Pre-check line, as they don’t travel frequently enough to be familiar. That’s just part of travel! But I can’t help feeling like people going through Pre-check should know better.

One of the cardinal etiquette rules of airport security is that once you are through the body scanner/X-ray machine/metal detector you get your items and move out of the way. This holds true no matter which line you’re in; if you are blocking access to the conveyor belt you will cause a bottleneck for everyone behind you.

Granted, in the non-Pre-check line getting out of the way takes a little more effort as you have bins, a laptop, shoes, and a suitcase. But in the Pre-check line you only have a suitcase and a personal item, maybe a small bowl with your wallet/change/phone. It should be a no-brainer for you to get your stuff and immediately get out of the way. And seriously, even if you never travel you should know that you shouldn’t stand, with your suitcase at your feet and your purse over your arm, blocking the way, looking at your phone!  

And yet, this happened to me last week. The security line was rather short so I wasn’t expecting much of a delay. I got my suitcase and purse onto the conveyer belt and made my way through the metal detector (for once, without getting randomly selected for additional screening. Hooray!). As I got to the other side of the x-ray machine a woman was standing there, with her bags at her feet, blocking access to the line, looking at her phone. I said, “Excuse me,” as I tried to move past her. She moved a bit but I still had to, like, contort my body to lift my suitcase and not hit her. She was completely oblivious.

Please, y’all. Looking at your phone to pass the time or be productive while you’re in line is obviously not a problem. But blocking people from getting their suitcases because you are texting/emailing/talking/whatever is not okay at all! Please, please, be aware of your surroundings and don’t block the way!

Readers, have you seen any crazy stuff going through airport security recently?


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  1. Something similar happened to me in april in the boarding line. A girl facetiming her boyfriend loudly and holding up the line. I asked to get past her and she tells him I am “giving her attitude” in a tone of voice that implied the universe is entirely at her disposal. Incredible! And rude on several levels. Please don’t do things like this! They annoy everyone else waiting in line.

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