An Insider's Guide to Airport Security


Before Heading to the Airport

  1. Allow enough time (at least two hours) to check-in and pass through security. Add more time as needed for your own peace of mind.

    WHN TIP: Manage Your Time Accordingly

    Allow more time if you're with small children, pets or passengers with special needs.

  2. Leave water bottles at home. Water, soft drinks or any other bottled liquids aren't allowed through security.

    WHN TIP: Thirsty?

    You can buy water and other drinks once you've cleared security.

  3. If you have liquids and gels, pack them in checked baggage (only small quantities (3 ounces) are allowed on the plane. These go in plastic baggies. One per passenger.

    WHN TIP: How Much is Too Much?

    Need an update on what to take and where to pack it? Read our article What's Allowed In Your Carry-On Luggage.

  4. From the Transportation Security Administration (TSA): The secret to getting through security smoothly is to de-clutter your carry-on bag. This lets Transportation Security Officers get a clear, uncomplicated X-ray image of your carry-on.
  5. Make a list (mental or written) of what you packed and in what bag. Why? You might be asked questions about the items in your bags.

    WHN TIP: Picture Perfect Memory

    Take a digital photo of the inside and outside of your suitcase. In case your luggage is lost or stolen, you'll need to list the items for claims and insurance purposes and this will help you remember.

  6. Don't wrap gifts. Security officers may need to unwrap them if they don't clear X-rays.

    WHN TIP:

    Pack wrapping paper to wrap when you arrive.

  7. Wear slip-on shoes or sandals because you have to take off your shoes to walk through security.

    WHN TIP: Eeewwww!

    Remember to wear (nice) socks!

    Entering Security

  8. Pay attention, read the signage, listen to the officers’ instructions and follow them. Remember, they’re just trying help and get you through the line.
  9. Have your boarding pass and photo I.D. OUT and ready when heading towards security.
  10. Put all your loose change, jewelry, watches and other metal/pocket items into your carry-on bag (for the time being). Why? These items might activate the metal detectors as you pass through.
  11. Think about how you're going to juggle your things and take off shoes, coats, etc. before you get to the plastic buckets on the conveyor belt. (You've probably been in line for a while, so that's a good time to think this through...)
  12. Take off your coat/sweater, baseball hat, shoes, and remove your laptop from its case - you know the drill so, again, prepare in advance so you don't hold up the line.
  13. WHN TIP:

    This seems obvious, but don’t make any jokes about terrorism, bombs, guns or any other issues that might be of concern to airport security. These comments are taken seriously, as they should be.

  14. Once you're through, head to your gate! Have a good trip!

    Updated: 5/2009