Technical Writing

How to Easily Get Through TSA Airport Security

For many travelers, getting through airport security is one of the most frustrating aspects of flying. Long lines combined with regulations that seem to change constantly can be anxiety-inducing!

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Here is some more guidance so you can sail through TSA security and get to your gate worry-free.

Before You Leave

Planning ahead and packing properly can help speed up the screening process and ease your travel experience at the airport.

Pack Appropriately

In the U.S., you may bring 1 carry-on bag and 1 personal item into the passenger compartment on most airlines. Discount airlines, such as Spirit, have stricter rules.

Also make sure that your luggage fits in the allotted baggage space. Each airline has slightly different requirements, so make sure to check your airline for more information.

Liquids and Powder

Per TSA requirements, all liquid and gel items must be 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) or smaller per item. Every liquid and gel product you carry into the passenger compartment must meet this requirement and fit into a single, 1-quart zip-closure clear plastic bag.

Medications and Equipment

You can bring prescription medications (liquid or otherwise) through security. Medications are exempt from normal liquid rules — they are allowed in “reasonable quantities” for your trip. Other items allowed are:

Prescriptions (pills, liquids, etc.) and over-the-counter medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact lenses

Breast milk and baby formula

Liquids and gels necessary for a passenger with a medical condition (such as water, juice, or “liquid nutrition” like Boost)

Accessories associated with medication such as ice packs, freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes

Make sure all medications are clearly labeled. In addition, you must declare these items to security personnel and be prepared for them to inspect the items.

Items That Aren’t Allowed

There are many items that aren’t allowed through a TSA security checkpoint. While some of these items may seem like common sense, there may be a few surprises:

Liquids, creams, and gels exceeding the allowance

Alcohol over 140 proof

Harsh/corrosive chemicals

Weapons and/or ammunition

Explosives (including fireworks/other flammable items)

Knives (unless rounded or plastic)

Medical marijuana and CBD oil (that contains THC)

For a full list of items that are not TSA-approved, check their website.

Dress Smartly

You will have to take your jackets and shoes off at the security checkpoint and put them into a plastic bin for screening unless you are over age 75.

Wear shoes that require minimal effort to take off and put back on — you’d hate to re-lace those knee-high boots if you’re in a rush! Also, several thousand people walk through the metal detectors each day…so you will probably want to wear socks.

Wear clothing and shoes without metal, and be ready to remove your belt if it has a metal buckle.

Put change and keys into your carry-on or empty your pockets into a plastic bin when you arrive at the checkpoint.

Check in Online

Check in online to avoid a long wait at the airport. You can usually check in online 24 hours before your flight, all the way up to an hour before your scheduled departure.

Leave Early

Though TSA does not actually offer any specific recommendations for airport arrival time, but the general rule of thumb is 2 hours for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights.

At the Airport

To avoid starting your travel day off on the wrong foot, you should consider these tricks to minimize your time waiting in long airport security lines.

Provide Correct Identification & Documentation

Remember to bring a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport, or permanent resident card to the airport.

Place your tickets and ID in a spot that’s easy to reach so you won’t have to fumble around for them in the security line.

Trusted Traveler Programs

We wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t discuss the absolute fastest ways to get through airport security — trusted traveler programs! TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are the most common, but many airports also have CLEAR as well.

TSA’s PreCheck has spread to more cities across the U.S. and is now available at more than 200 airports and over 55 participating airlines. Members of the program are pre-screened and can whiz through security without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases.

According to the TSA, 93% of travelers wait in line less than 5 minutes!

Putting Items in Bins

Unless you have TSA PreCheck, you will have to remove various items, such as liquids and electronics, from your luggage and place them in separate bins before going through security.

In addition, you will have to remove your shoes, items from pockets, jewelry, and large jackets.

Upon Arrival

Once you arrive at your destination, make sure you have everything you brought with you — after leaving the secured area, you will not be able to return.

If you realize that you did leave something, locate the nearest help desk or information booth within the airport. They will be able to help you retrieve any items that may have been left on the plane or in the secured area.

Final Thoughts

It’s never fun standing in long airport security lines, especially if you would rather spend that extra time relaxing in the airport lounge before your flight or you need to rush to your gate.

Thankfully, with a little bit of preparation, getting through airport security can be quick and painless!

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