It doesn’t matter how organized or prepared I am, every time it’s my turn to put my stuff in the bins, I start to panic and riffle through my stuff to make sure everything is in order. There are always a lot of people behind you waiting. It’s like you can feel their eyeballs on the back of your head and their hot breath on your neck telling you to “hurry up.” Everyone else always seems like a professional at this, and that they know something you don’t.
Really, the main thing is getting through it quickly and efficiently. People do not want to wait behind you while you struggle to figure things out on the spot. If you can be as prepared as possible, it will be easy and smooth and you won’t have anyone behind you saying, “COME ON, ALREADY! IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME AT AN AIRPORT?”
Here are a few tips I’ve learned as I’ve gone through security:
- Read all the rules before you go. The TSA rules change all the time and you need to keep up with it. For example, the last time I flew I didn’t know I could leave my jewelry on. I was taking it off when a TSA agent let me know that it’s not necessary.
- Wear slip-on shoes. Nothing slows down security like someone trying to untie his or her large clunky boots, or even athletic shoes that you have to sit down and beat to get them to go on your feet. Wear shoes come off and on easy.
- Have your liquids ready. Keep your quart-size bag at the top of your suitcase or in your personal item so you can grab them right away. They want it out on top of your stuff, so make sure it’s easily accessible.
- If you have a laptop, grab a second bin. You will have to put it in a bin by itself, so when you’re grabbing bins for your stuff, grab an extra instead of waiting and having to go back and get another one. (You don’t need one for iPads or tablets, by the way.)
- Empty your pockets. They repeat this over, and over again so if you don’t remember this one, don’t worry… they will remind you.
- Take off your coat while you’re waiting in line. You have to take off your coat, or any jacket-type item.
- Put your boarding pass and ID away. After the TSA agent checks your boarding pass, you don’t need it again until you get on the plane. So just store it in your personal item.
- Walk in the machine like a pro. When they call you up, put your feet on the markers, put your hands up and wait for the swipe. It’s quick, easy and painless… at least that’s what they say. The studies haven’t come out to show the damage these screenings are doing to our vital organs.
When you travel overseas, TSA rules are different. It’s good to brush up on the rules for the country you are going to.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned from overseas traveling:
- You don’t always need to take off your shoes. I was actually laughed at by someone when they saw me take my shoes off, probably because the United States is one of the only countries to have this strict rule. One country made you take shoes off only if they were boots with thick heals. Just be sure to look it up so you don’t look like an idiot.
- Certain countries have different carry-on restrictions. For example, all over Europe I was allowed to bring on a wine bottle opener. When I got to Ecuador they were very confused why I thought I could bring that on a plane. Needless to say, they threw it away.
- Allow extra time. Sometimes, they take their time looking through your luggage, and asking others to double check what they’re looking at to make sure it’s nothing you’re not allowed to bring on.
I hope these few tips help you get through security without having a heart-attack. I still get nervous I’m going to hold up the line, but I try my best to fake like I really do know what I’m doing.