Here are some tips to fly through security the checkpoint at the airport that start at home, before you even arrive at the airport.
1. Plan Your Pack.
Know the limits of what is and is not allowed on the plane, whether in your checked or carry-on luggage so that you plan to pack things in the correct location. Do not bring your bulk sized shampoo and hair conditioner in your carry-on bag. Nail files, scissors, go in the checked baggage too. In general, pack away any liquid containers larger than 100 mL and any sharp items in your checked baggage. Liquids in your carry-on are sometimes required to be in a clear resealable bag. I have only encountered this twice and was significantly delayed the first time because I did not know this and had to go through secondary. If you have Ziploc® bags at home those will do, otherwise the airports have bags for you to use, but that means opening your luggage and spending time to do this instead of moving along in the line.
2. Dress to Undress.
Okay! It is not necessary to completely undress when you are going through security screening, but it might feel that way. In many situations, you will be asked to remove your outer jacket, belt, shoes, and any accessories (think watches or other metal). What I like to do is avoid wearing some of these if I can. In other words, I will choose to wear sweats or a skirt that does not need a belt. I usually put my watch, a belt, sunglasses and light jacket in my carry-on luggage near the top so that I can quickly find them and put them on after the security checkpoint.
3. Laptops Out.
Laptops and other large electronics need to be out of your bags and cases and directly in the bin for screening. So do not pack them at the bottom suitcase, because you will need to dig it out and that will slow you down significantly. If you must travel with a portable computer or tablet, keep it near the top of your bag or in an easy to access pocket to get it out and on the security belt as quickly as possible. Do not forget to pick it up when you make it through to the other side!
4. Follow Instructions.
Airports all over the world follow some variation of security procedures. Some have full body scanners; others just metal detectors or a guard with a wand. Whatever situation you find yourself in, pay attention to posted signs and to the verbal directions from airport staff. They deal thousands of passengers daily and our safety is in part dependent on the job that they do making sure that nothing-prohibited gets through. Be cooperative and polite and it will help you to get through without a problem.
You will be well on your way if you plan ahead. Things are constantly evolving at the airport, but if you follow these steps and prepare before you arrive at the airport it will help you to have a smooth journey through security screenings.
If you still have any uncertainty, visit the TSA’s Travel Tips. They break down the screening process to help you move through smoothly.