The last, oh, ten years have been increasingly frustrating for airline travellers. Unfortunately, the lines are only getting longer and the security only getting tougher. Getting through TSA airport security without hassle is all many of us want to do.
However, when was the last time you ended up in a line behind someone who apparently hasn’t travelled since the 1990s? They don’t know that their liquids have to be in a small bag, they don’t understand why they have to take their computer out, or they are so slow at unpacking their bag that you begin to wonder if you’ll miss your flight.
We have ALL been there. I know we have. This summer (2017), in the US, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) ramped up security at various airports. They are “trialling” things like:
taking all your paper out of your bag (books, receipts, any work documents – every single piece of paper). This occurred at the Kansas City International Airport in early May. Those of you who have travelled through KCI know that every five or so gates has its own security, and often the lines are short. The delays during this procedure were exponentially worse.
fingerprint identification. This one, at only Denver International and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, is voluntary opt-in during the trial period and all participants will ALSO go through regular security.
getting through tsa airport security without hassle
We’ve all had a nasty experience with the TSA. You forgot to take off your shoes and they yell at you, you left some loose change in your pocket and you get beeped, you get pulled aside when you’re running late to take part in a “random” search.
It’s happened to everyone. But luckily there are some things you can do to speed up your turn through the line. Unfortunately, these tips will not make the person in front of you move any faster!
I understand that the big reason behind many of the TSA changes/trials has to do with the unrelated issue of airlines charging you to check a bag. Because no one wants to pay a ridiculous checked bag fee, people stuff more and more into carry ons. I fully get it. When I go away for a weekend, I am that person too.
But can we all agree that if you are going away for two weeks, you should probably check a bag?
Here are my seven tips on getting through TSA airport security without hassle!
pack your carry on lightly
I know, I know. You want to make sure you have every possible outfit for the two nights you’re away. You may have your computer so you can get some work done, an iPad, and a planner or book.
Business travellers aren’t exempt from this one but they certainly travel enough that they are pretty good at their security line routine. For those travellers who don’t get on a plane every Monday morning, consider this:
Pack your carry on lightly. Don’t pack a hairdryer in your carry on (I am not even sure if they would let it through anymore). Leave the seven vials of face cream at home. If you’re going away for a long weekend, plan to minimise your beauty routine. Your skin will also thank you.
My rule of thumb IF I’m checking a bag (aka when I was backpacking) is to only have a change of panties and t-shirt in my carry on. Let your checked bag be the heavy one.
wear slip on shoes
Slip on shoes, like TOMS or flip flops, are easy to get on and off. In the winter, slip on boots are great. Since you’ll be expected to take your shoes off getting through TSA in all US airports (this doesn’t apply to UK, Europe, Australasia, or any other airport I’ve been in since leaving the US), you’re better off preparing for that beforehand.
IF you are wearing a pair of heavy boots or hiking shoes, untie them for easy removal when you get to the head of the line.
keep your small ziploc of liquids accessible
You remember that all of your liquids have to be under 3oz, right? And you have to put them in a small 1 quart ziploc bag? And you, as a traveller, only get one ziploc bag? It’s the 3-1-1 rule and it’s been around since the early 2000s.
My tip: Don’t dig for your ziploc bag. Keep it within easy reach, either in a side pocket or right on the top of your bag. Also, don’t overfill it. At most you need a mini shampoo, a mini conditioner, a mini body wash, and a face wash. Maybe a lotion. Contact lens solution also has to go in here. Beyond that – leave it at home.
prep your computer
If you carry a computer or other device (tablet, Kindle) that needs to be taken out of your bag, store it in a padded case that TSA has okayed. This way, you don’t have to take the computer fully out and it’s easier to slide back into your bag. Remember that iPads also have to be taken out in most airports.
Also remember that if you’re travelling internationally, the “computer and iPad need to come out of your bag” rule applies in Australia/NZ, the UK, Europe, and across much of Asia.
If you are carrying a large camera, they MAY ask for you to take it out, they may not. The x-ray machine won’t harm it but if you have an old film camera you should let them know you have film as the x-ray machine can affect it.
in the line
grab two bins at the beginning of the line
It is a rare flight that I do not use at least two bins. I need one for my computer and iPad (they can go together) and one for my miscellaneous objects: liquids, shoes, scarf, sweater. It will make your getting through TSA security without hassles much easier if you just grab two bins* at the beginning.
Put your electronics in one and your other stuff in the second. If for some reason you don’t need two (no computer, for example), pass it to the next person in line.
*If you have a ton of stuff, grab three. TSA can be testy if you fill up a bin so they can’t see whats in there.
carry your sweater or jacket
Airports and planes are notoriously cold, and chances are high that even if you’re travelling in the dead of summer you will still have a sweatshirt.
If it fits inside your carry on bag, great. If not, it goes in one of your bins. Bulky ones, like a hoodie or winter coat, often have to come off in most security lines. TSA will make you remove it (along with scarves, ladies be warned) so make sure you have a tank top or t-shirt underneath.
keep your ticket and id in your hand
99.9% of the time, I carry my ticket and passport through security in my own hand.
I have had several agents in other countries (not the US) ask me to put it through the machine and I have a huge huge huge problem with that. My passport is literally the most important thing to me when I am travelling, and I rarely let it out of my sight. (But… you’re not supposed to argue with these people, so don’t.)
TSA generally doesn’t have an issue with you carrying your ticket and ID through the body scanner with you. Some even want to see it to confirm you’re who you say you are or going to where you say you’re going.
And there you have it – my personal, tested tips for getting through TSA airport security without hassle! I’d love your feedback in the comments. Feel free to share your stories or tips on TSA security.
Do you have any tried-and-true tips for travellers getting through TSA airport security without hassle? Leave them in the comments below!
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