Seeing a frequent flier glide through the security line at the airport is a thing of beauty. They know what to expect and plan accordingly. It’s true that many of them learned the ropes through experience and repetition but even infrequent fliers can fit in by just doing a little homework.
First, familiarize yourself with the 3-1-1 rule. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this rule, travelers are allowed to carry-on just one, one-quart zippered baggie with liquids, aerosols, and gels that are 3.4 oz or less. I have no doubt that 3-1-1 violations are the biggest reason for delays in security. When packing, if you aren’t sure whether something is considered to be a liquid or gel, just assume that it is. I know of instances where peanut butter and peaches packed in syrup were considered to be liquid/gels. Also, don’t try to get through security by freezing a bottle of water. It may be in a solid form when you go through security but that’s not how the TSA will see it. My husband, not the culprit, has a humorous story to go along with this last bit. As you would expect, the fiasco and resulting debates held up the security line quite a bit.
It’s also a good idea to review the list of items not allowed on a plane. Most of us know that a meat cleaver is not allowed but maybe you didn’t realize that you can’t carry-on a baseball bat. If in doubt, check the list.
Remember that unless you’re under 12 or over 74, you are going to have to take your shoes off to go through security. Make smart choices about your footwear.
Similarly, if you are wearing a coat, zippered sweatshirt, or sweater be prepared to take this off to go through security.
If you have a laptop, ipad, or kindle, be prepared to take these items out and place them in a separate bin. For more on these policies and checkpoint friendly laptop bags, visit this section of the TSA’s site.
Take off your belt and watch and really empty those pockets before going through the metal detector. I know this seems elementary but I’ve seen people swear their pockets are empty only to later produce a handful of change. If you’re this person, don’t be surprised when the growing crowd of travelers gets a bit testy while waiting for you to pass through the scanner repeatedly.
After taking these steps to get prepared, just pay attention to what the TSA agents are asking you to do. Certain security procedures (shoes – in a bin or on the belt, shoes- on top of the bin or anywhere, ID – on your person or in the bin…) vary from airport to airport but by paying attention to the directions you’re given, you can look like a world traveler.