Whether you're an occasional traveler or frequent flier, the prospect of passing through airport security can be daunting. While you cannot make the security line any shorter, there is much you can do to prepare to make the process easier for yourself, your fellow passengers and the security screeners.
- Pack in easily inspected modules - mesh cubes, mesh pockets and packing folders - that can be lifted out individually for inspection.
- Plan to arrive at the airport well in advance of scheduled flight departure times. The TSA website provides historical wait time information for security checkpoints, but bear in mind that other factors such as weather delays, airline check-in lines, and even parking problems are not taken into account.
- Have your ID and boarding pass ready as you approach the checkpoint.
- Place coins, keys and other metal objects in your carry-on bag, and minimize the metal in your clothing.
- All passengers will be required to remove their shoes during screening and pass them through the scanners. Wear loafers or other shoes that are easily slipped on and off.
- Remember, passports are required for all persons traveling by air outside of the United States.
What You Need to Know—Carry-On Packing
- Travelers may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in their carry-on luggage, but they must comply with "3-1-1" TSA rules. All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in travel-size containers of 3 oz or less, must fit comfortably in 1 quart-size, clear plastic zip-top bag, and only 1 plastic bag per passenger is allowed. Larger zip-top bags and fold-over sandwich bags are not allowed.
- At the checkpoint, travelers will be asked to remove the zip-top bag of liquids and place it in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray.
- Exceptions include infant and toddler care items. Travelers may carry larger amounts (more than 3 oz) of baby formula, breast milk, juice or baby food when traveling with infants and small children. Mothers may also carry more than 3 oz of breast milk when unaccompanied by their child.
- Also excepted are small amounts of required medicines. This includes both prescription medicine that matches the passenger's name, and over-the counter medications. Low blood sugar treatments including glucose gel are allowed. Be sure all medicines are clearly labeled.
- After clearing security, travelers can bring beverages and other items purchased in the secure boarding area on-board aircraft. These items are permitted only in the secure area and on the flight. If you leave the secure area and re-enter through the security check-point, any liquids in containers larger than 3 oz will be confiscated.
- Anticipate that security screening will be slow, and the lines will be long, so make sure you allow plenty of time to pass through security. You should plan to arrive one to two hours prior to departure, depending on the airport size and time of day.
- Neatly arranged carry-on bags with see-through plastic or mesh organizers will make it easier for TSA inspectors and speed the security process.
What You Need to Know—Checked Luggage
- Loose lithium batteries are not allowed in checked luggage.
- Lighters and matches are not permitted in checked luggage; one book of safety matches and one common lighter is permitted in your carry-on bag.
- When packing your checked luggage, bear in mind that luggage handlers are not as gentle as you are when you carry-on. Be sure that all liquids are in leak-proof containers.
- Luggage locks must be TSA accepted, allowing baggage screeners to unlock them with a master key for inspection.
The TSA website is the best resource for the latest in carry-on and checked luggage regulations, offering airport delay information, tips for getting through security in the least amount of time, and a downloadable brochure listing permitted and prohibited items. You can also sign up to be notified by e-mail when regulations change.