As most months see me visiting at least one or two airports, I have discovered that there are a few ways that I can help make the process run smoothly. A little preparation will go a long way to making your life easier once you get to the airport. Follow my 5 steps to get through airport security without loosing your cool, and you too can begin your trip with a smile on your face.

     5 steps to get through airport security


    Preparation should begin before you head to the airport



    • If you are a US citizen, a lawful permanent resident of the US, or a foreign national already enrolled in Global Entry then visit the TSA website and sign up for their Preapproved Program. If you are a frequent flyer then this should be at the top of your list, but even for the casual traveller it is well worth investing the time.


    • Think about the clothes you select to travel in. Wear comfortable shoes as you may be standing in long lines. Heels look good but do you really want to stand in them for 1-2 hours if the airport is busy? Wear shoes that can be removed easily when walking through the scanner and remember socks if you are squeamish about walking barefoot.


    • Don’t wear lots of jewelry that will need to be removed or have metallic items on your clothing, unless of course you like the idea of an airport pat down.


    • If you plan to be carryon then make sure you have organized your liquids in the correct containers, you have arranged your belongings so that a TSA agent can easily check them, and you do not have any contraband items in your possession. If in doubt about what you can and cannot be taken through security then check the TSA prohibited items list.

    5 steps to get through airport security


    Select your security line with care



    • Congratulations if you have been TSA preapproved. Please wave to your fellow travellers as you move smoothly past them standing in line.


    • If eligible, always select the fast track or business/first class line. Your airline should be able to tell you if this is available to you. This is when being a member of a frequent flyer program can come in handy.


    • When choosing a line don’t get behind a large family, especially if they have a baby in a stroller. Invariably families have lots of items that need to be taken out of bags to be scanned and then family members need to be corralled into going through the scanner.


    • Think about the George Clooney film, Up in the Air. I know it stereotypes, but he has a good point. Try to avoid – elderly people, people that appear confused or cannot speak the language, or people needing assistance with wheelchairs.


    • Ideally select the line with the single business travellers that have already begun their disrobing process while standing in the line. Why is it that when you have stood for so long so many people wait until they arrive at the scanner to take off their belt or locate their liquids?

    5 steps to get through airport security



    Understand what you need to show, when, and where



    • At the start of the security line you will need to show your passport or photo ID and your boarding card. Have these items ready in your hand and not packed in your bag. As soon as these have been checked, put them safely away in your hand luggage so that they do not get lost in the variety of items that will need to be scanned. Yes I speak from experience on this point, just ask David!

    5 steps to get through airport security


    Know what items need to be removed for separate screening



    • It helps to be aware of what others around you are doing. If there is a full body scanner that everyone is going through then you will not need to remove as many items such as your belt or watch. Don’t be caught out at the last minute and need to put an expensive piece of jewelry randomly through the scanner. Remove any such items and place them safely inside one of your bags. Just ask a TSA agent how many items are lost or left behind at the scanning station.


    • Large electronic items such as laptops always need to be removed from your bag and any other protective case you carry them in (unless you have one of the new ‘checkpoint friendly’ laptop bag ) I have found that it is worthwhile to also remove such items as electric toothbrushes and battery packs for cellphones to avoid the need to be called to the extra screening line. I pack such items in a see through bag that makes it easy for the scanners but keeps them all together so that I do not leave anything behind.


    • For liquids, remember the 3-1-1 rule. That is 3.4ml of liquid in 1 bag with 1 per passenger

    5 steps to get through airport security


    Be nice to the TSA Agents



    • Yes the TSA Agents can sometimes appear grumpy and officious but greeting them with a smile and keeping calm will benefit you in the long run.


    • Don’t turn into a comedian or chatty Cathy, just get through this process as quickly as possible.


    • Keep calm, it can be very frustrating when someone in front of you is being poorly organized but you will not make any friends with the authorities by being vocal or grumpy (I remind myself of this point on most journeys).


    I hope this helps but I would love to hear what tips you have for getting through airport security without loosing your cool.


    Happy travels


      • Kim says:

        These are great tips! We’ve flown on buddy passes frequently and have really started to get this whole airport security thing down. But our first time flying … oh buddy. Wish I had this list!

        • Admin says:

          Thanks Kim. I have become a great people watcher now when I travel as you pick up so many tips from watching others either make mistakes or work the short cuts. Happy travels to you.

      • Megan says:

        Yes, these are very helpful tips. To me, they seem pretty common sense; but not surprisingly so many people are ill-prepared because they didn’t do any sort of research before flying. Each of these tips is certainly a must for easier travel 🙂

        • Admin says:

          Im constantly amazed at how some people turn up at the airport without a clue how it works, perhaps they don’t travel that much. It can be a stressful time, especially if you are making flight connections etc, but a deep breath and a positive mindset always helps (and of course the reward of a glass of champs when I get to the lounge)

      • Ashley says:

        Oh airport lines make me so angry sometimes! Luckily I have been lucky the past few times I have flown..all the lines have been short!

        • Admin says:

          It so hit and miss Ashley. I dropped my daughter off yesterday and Houston Hobby had a power cut so as you can imagine there were quite a few very unhappy people so Im not sure any tips would help in that situation.

      • This is a great post, wish more people were prepared as yourself it would make the process so much faster like you mentioned. And TSA employees need some friendly faces, they have to deal with mean hateful people on a regular basis. That’s probably why some look so grumpy. Thanks for sharing your great tips!

        • Admin says:

          Thanks Linda. I sometimes feel sorry for the TSA agents as they have to deal with so many unhappy passengers but then I watch one be incredibly rude to a passenger and my sympathy evaporates a little. I was going to add a 6th tip that when boarding a plane do not make eye contact with the security agent and smile (as I used to do) as then you get picked for secondary screening as they know you are a soft touch! Happy travels.

      • Very Erin says:

        Great tips! I’m going to Ireland next Monday, so I’ll definitely be needing these! I don’t fly often and this will be my first time in several years, so I’ve been nervous about the international process.

        • Sue says:

          Thanks Erin.Ireland will be beautiful. I usually find that flying international is easier than doing a domestic route as less people are in that area and the staff are on hand to answer questions. That said, the better prepared you are the easier it will be for you. Safe travels.

      • Love those brown boots! Some great tips here.

        • Sue says:

          LOL I usually travel in flats but thankfully now that I have TSA pre approval I don’t have to take off as many layers these days

      • I am the person you hate to be behind, I try to disrobe as much as possible with the kiddos but they make it difficult! X

        • Sue says:

          Oh Laura I’m sorry, Ive been that person too, its difficult with little ones no matter how organized you are. I hope you have a good support team when you travel 🙂

      • Yaitza says:

        Funny! Getting through those lines can be frustrating, we recently discovered that with a military ID you can skip the long security line and go for the exclusive, employee line… With all the traveling we do, this discovery was life changing to say the least lol

        • Sue says:

          That is such a great tip for military families and so well deserved. Southwest and United will also usually allow military personnel to board first. My nephew is just completing his military training so I must be sure to remind him of this fact for when his family needs to travel. Many thanks for passing along such valuable information.

      • I was randomly selected for TSA pre-check once and it was the smoothest security line I’ve even been through. I plan on applying for it before my next trip. Absolutely worth it!

        • Sue says:

          Thanks Miranda, it is well worth doing the TSA pre approval but make sure when you do you register with all the airlines that you use as it is not automatic.

      • These are useful tips. The worst part for me is taking off my shoes!

        • Sue says:

          Thanks Tirralan, I usually wear flats that are easy to slip on and off but being TSA pre approved means that you can skip that part, which is even better. I made the mistake of wearing boots once when leaving NY and had the hardest time taking them off while in line and vowed never to do that again.

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