Unless you are into the thrill of arriving at your airport departure gate disheveled and sweaty, you probably do what it takes to make it there on time. That means coasting through security checkpoints without any holdups.
Sometimes those holdups are caused by others, but other times, you’re the reason for the delays. To avoid the scenario of “Everything that could go wrong went wrong”, let’s take a look at the common ways people trip themselves up in the security lines.
You may have made one or more of these mistakes, but knowledge is key in skirting around them for the next time. You’ll have to watch what you say, what you carry, and how you move so you don’t wind up missing your flight or worse – in trouble.
Too Much Liquid
Carry-on luggage should include your liquids packed in 3.4 oz (or 100 ml) containers that are then packaged in a clear, 1-quart plastic zipper bag. That means your bottled water won’t make it. Instead, take an empty water bottle to fill once you pass screening or be prepared to buy some afterwards.
So, you can’t smuggle alcohol in a small flask, but for your carry-on luggage, you’re allowed to bring bottles that are less than 3.4 oz that are in their retail packaging. But your beverage can’t contain more than 70% alcohol. Larger bottles or sealable flasks will have to be checked.
Not Checking Wait Times
Before you leave the house, check online to see how long the wait is for security check points. In theory, you should arrive at the airport two hours before departure, but if you miss the window you could be cutting it way too close by underestimating the length of the security lines. TSA even has an app! Use it.
Unorganized or Missing Documents
Keep your ID, passport, boarding pass, and other important documents in an easily accessible location but close to your person. You don’t want to have to rummage through your stuff to find them. Additionally, be aware that if traveling solo with children, you may be asked to present a travel consent form.
Wearing the Wrong Gear
Nice but complicated footwear can trip you up and slow things down, as well as clothing with metal detailing. Try to opt for slip-ons, non-bulky outerwear, a minimal amount of jewelry or metal-containing hair accessories.
Be ready to slip off your watch, belt, or other item to pass through quickly. If you’re worried about extra screening, wear basics like jeans or leggings so that hand searches don’t make you feel violated.
Getting Testy with TSA
Do not, we repeat, do not cop an attitude with security staff. It will make you look rude but it can also give you a one-way ticket to a private office, jail, or the no-fly list. Manage your stress levels!
Pack Prohibited Items
This is just a reminder not to pack weapons in your carry-on luggage or other objects that may be deemed a threat. This is best avoided by verifying what is acceptable for checked luggage, carry-ons, or not at all on TSA’s website.
Pay special attention to things like curling iron types, sports equipment, razors, food, corkscrews, and other household objects.
Removing All Electronics
Did you know you don’t have to put your cell phone or tablet in separate trays? You can leave the smaller items in your carry-on for the scan.
Choosing the Wrong Line
Airports are large enough to warrant multiple checkpoints, so choose wisely. It doesn’t have to be the one closest to your gate, but you should allow yourself additional minutes if needed.
Do a scan of the lines upon your arrival to see which agents are moving the quickest, and if you are traveling with babies, look into the TSA Pre-Check program. And again, we encourage all travelers to get the TSA app that will update you with line wait times for your trip and your layover!
Have you made any of these airport security mistakes? How did you resolve it? Run into any serious issues or close calls?