the airport security frenzy

This post originally published on a previously-owned blog and was imported here to simplify my life. Please excuse any confusion due to this merge. I hope you enjoy the content!

It’s always pretty apparent, when traveling, who is experienced versus who just doesn’t fly very often.  Neither are better than the other.  Just different.

Personally, I don’t travel as much as some crazy business travelers, but I’d definitely consider myself in an upper tier somewhere… so I thought I’d share a few pointers about the security process.  These may seem like no-brainers for you, but for others (just based on observing so many people struggling in airports) maybe it will help?


First, look at the line you’re about to get into.  If it’s long, jump right in.  If it’s super short, step off to a side area.  Whichever one you did, your next steps should be these (in no particular order):

  • Empty pants pockets (I like to empty these into my jacket pockets)
    NOTE: It’s not just “metal” anymore – with the new naked scanners, as I call them, even a small hair tie you forgot about could trigger having to be wanded extra or sent through the line again.  Not cool.
  • Take off jacket/sweatshirt/coat
  • Take off belt
  • Take off shoes (slip-on shoes are ideal for this step but I always recommend wearing good shoes for which you might be thankful during a sprint on a short connection!)
  • Take off watches, bracelets, large jewelry (leave wedding rings on)
  • Pull out liquids (I’ll talk more about this in a future post about packing…)
  • Pull out laptop (if in own sleeve, no need to remove sleeve)
  • Have ID & boarding pass in hand
Note: if you are familiar with that particular airport and it doesn’t require the belt & shoes removal, great!  Almost all do, though…
Another Note: before you even arrive at the airport, make sure you pack your carry-on pretty neatly.  If things are messy, electronic cords are tangled, etc., you never know what’s going to look suspicious on those x-ray screens…  Much more on this in a future post on packing. 🙂
Third Note: Plan ahead and see if the airports you’ll be hitting use paperless boarding passes.  Whip out your smart phone like a smarty pants and sail on through.
If you have a dog with you, you’ll need to take her out at the last minute, send the crate with your bags through the x-ray machine and carry her with you through the scanners.  Honestly, I don’t know anything about traveling with babies, so another post another day…at least 10 months from now haha.
Place your items on the belt in an order you’re comfortable with.  Me?  I always have my laptop go through very last and don’t drop my hand from it until the little rubber flaps take hold…then I head to the scanner.  That way, the half a dozen people waiting at the other end aren’t tempted while you’re still stuck getting scanned.  I know, I know, there are so many security folks around.  But I’m careful and it’s paid off with nothing ever stolen or pick-pocketed. 🙂  *commence wood knocking*
HOLD ON to your ID & boarding pass and carry through scanner with you.  That is allowed.
When you make it through, stand by the belt and collect your things as soon as possible.  Try not to ever let your things out of your sight.  Depending on the airport, you may or may not have a lot of room right at the belt.  Do what you need to do to gather your belongings and carry all of it to a nearby chair or table out of the way.  There, put your clothes back on, pack up your things and don’t accidentally set down your boarding pass & ID!
Basically, the point is planning ahead and being efficient with your every movement.  There are people in a hurry in airports and I try my best to never hold anyone up.  But I realize a lot of people don’t care about that.  “It’s their world, too,” as I’ve been told.  🙂
More and more airports are addressing the issue of Expert versus Casual air travelers by actually forming official lines for each to go through security (and also one for Family/Medical Liquids).  Follow my tips and you can breeze through the Expert line in no time!

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