Travel tips to speed up TSA Airport Security

Posted By on July 8, 2008

passportsAlthough I don’t travel as often by air as in the past, I have come across a few tips that make going through airport security less painful. First, if you can afford it and need to fly often, consider FlyClear. (check to see if the airports you use are covered) At last read, the “pass” will cost $128 and permits the use of exclusive security lanes. Often frequent fliers will also be permitted use of these lanes … check with your miles and status.
clear lane

Carry on vs. Packed items: Pack whatever metal you can into your check luggage, but be sure to keep your bag under the airlines limits; these limits are changing from the previous 70 pounds per passenger to 50 pounds on some airlines — so be advised. Also, with the price of fuel, there are up-charges for extra bags and even excessive carry-on weight. A good rule of thumb is to pack one checked bag under 50 pounds, and carry-on a single bag.
zip bags liquidsCarry-on: Speaking of carry on bags, consider packing it so that all non-clothing items are on top. Pack them in separate clear ziplock bags so that items can be easily viewed if your carry-on bag is opened. Place computer wiring and accessories, phone chargers and camera components, etc on one side, necessary toiletries, medication and other ‘must have’ necessities on the other side.

Computer and electronics: If you travel with a notebook computer, be sure to have it in an easy to access compartment or bag. It will need to be placed in its own bin and fed through the X-ray devices separate from your other items. Cellphones might need to be turn on to show their function and cameras as well “if” they are not packed in your check baggage. (I generally ziplock bag my camera and place it on the top of my carry-on bag with accessories and haven’t had to unpack them yet.)

Manage your bins: Placing your shoes (easy to slip off and on) in the first bin to go through the X-ray. You can often put your jacket and small pocket items in this bin. Behind it place another bin (if necessary), followed by your carry-on ready to open. I actually unzip part way so that the zippers can be easily opened by the Transportation Safety Administration agents. Last, put your computer bin by itself behind your carry-on and as it enters the X-Ray machine.

Metal detector: As your computer is being inspected, head through the metal detector “when signaled” by the TSA agent. Be sure your pockets are empty of all metal, large belt buckles off as well as larger jewelry. (better not to wear these items while traveling by air) Keep your arms slightly away from your side and walk through slowly listening for tones. If instructed, go through the “explosive detection puffers” — a much slower detection process, so pay attention to the indicators as to when to move.

Once through, slip your computer back into its case, zip your carry-on, put pocket items back into your pocket and grab your shoes. It is unnecessary to slip your shoes on and bottlenecking the line. Almost all airports have seats after one has pick up your items. Its underused in my opinion and a good place to sit and be sure you have all your items while putting on your shoes.

A final note: Don’t try to bring liquids if they are over 3 oz. Those that are under must be zipped in a “quart” sized bag. Gallon sized bags are not permitted, although I’ve not had a problem using them packing dry items and electronic items. You are not permitted to carry through a coffee, soft drink or water bottle — put them in the trash before waiting in the line; be a good traveler and not get a sour look from TSA agents.

Here’s a 2008 TSA list of what to carry-on, what to check and what to ‘not’ bring.
tsa persona items
tsa electronic items
tsa sharp object
tsa sporting goods
tsa guns and firearms
tsa tools
tsa martial arts
tsa explosives and flammable
tsa other

Links in above list are not active; see TSA pages.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
My Desultory Blog