Do you ever feel a little personally invaded after getting through the TSA line? After having to take off your shoes and accessories, open your bags and belongings in front of the crowds, and maybe even get a pat-down… you might think TSA stands for Traveler Stress Association. But if you can prepare yourself for a quick and seamless security check, you’ll be at your gate with an overpriced coffee in no time!
Here are a few tips for making the TSA line less stressful.
1. Arrive early to the airport
This is the MOST important rule. It’s essential to arrive early, not just to ease stress in the security line but to make sure you catch your flight! Knowing you have plenty of time to get through the security line will help you feel less flustered when you arrive. TSA recommends checking with your airline for the best arrival times. But the standard recommendations are two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight. If you are concerned about weather or traffic – go even earlier! If you miss your flight, your ticket will be marked as a no-show and you will lose the entire reservation.
2. Be mindful of accessories
Some bulky, metal accessories may trigger the alarm in the security check. Avoid wearing bulky accessories and belts. If they ask you to remove things, this will also add to your time and hassle as you try to get through the line. It’s best to just leave things at home if they are not necessary.
3. Wear appropriate footwear
You will have to remove your shoes and put them in a bin. So you don’t want shoes or boots that take a lot of effort to get off and on. Additionally, you’ll want to pick footwear that is comfortable for walking and for being on the plane. Here are 10 suggestions for shoes to wear at the airport and on the plane.
4. Make electronic devices accessible
Phones, laptops, and tablets must come out of your carryon to go through the scanner. This means you don’t want them buried under piles of things you’ll have to remove. Put them in a safe, but accessible spot in your bag before hitting the security line.
5. Keep documents handy
While going through the TSA line you’ll need to show your boarding pass and ID. Then you need to quickly put them away safely before going through the scanner. Decide ahead of time exactly where you will put them to avoid losing anything!
6. Get out meds and food
Put medications, snacks, milk or formula for babies in an easy to access location. TSA may need to inspect or swab the containers as they go through. It may help to let them know about these items right away to speed things up.
7. Don’t forget about liquids!
Liquids, gels, and aerosols still need to follow the 3.4 oz rule. Save yourself time by packing these in clear, plastic bags ahead at home. You can always put larger toiletries in your checked luggage, but it’s nice to have some smaller toiletries with you for freshening up on the plane or… in case of a delay!
When in Doubt, Leave it Out
If you are unsure whether or not an item will pass security clearance, just leave it out! If you can’t bring it through, you may be given the option to toss it or mail it back home to yourself. In the worst case scenario, a suspicious item could cause TSA to pull you aside for questioning, causing you to miss your flight. When in doubt, leave it out!