Airport Security Tips and TSA Rules

Need some airport security tips? How can you get through the lines quickly? Do you have to take your shoes off? (yes!)

Knowing the TSA rules - and there are many! - will help you be prepared for this ordeal.

If you're not ready to take off your shoes, or have the wrong containers for liquids, it will take longer to get through security.

Homeland Security and the Travel Safety Administration (TSA) are constantly updating the rules for airport security. Keeping up on the latest requirements can be mind-boggling!

Here are some airport security tips to make sure you don't lose your makeup bag:

airline ticket agent at ticket counte
  • You will be asked not only for your full name and address when booking your flight, you will also be required to provide your birthdate and your gender for identification purposes. This information is required at the time seats are booked, and must match exactly the information on your ID (passport or, for domestic travel, drivers license, etc.). This information is checked and approved by the TSA, and you will be issued a boarding pass only if the TSA has approved your information - so be precise!
  • Above all, ARRIVE EARLY! That means at least 90 minutes before a domestic flight, and at least 2 hours before an international flight.
  • Be familiar with your airport. If you know where your check-in desk is, you can check the average wait times for each checkpoint in your airport with the MyTSA app for your phone or tablet. (just type www.tsa.gov/mobile into your browser or get the MyTSA app for iPhones.) Then plan to go to the fastest checkpoints in your terminal. If there is a central security checkpoint, the shorter lines might be near the perimiter of the security area.
  • Have your ID and boarding pass available at all times, until you arrive at your gate. You will need to show them several times, so don't put them away. A document holder with neckstrap is handy for this.
  • The rules for liquids are : 3 ounce containers, in a 1 quart clear plastic, zip top bag, 1 bag per passenger (what TSA refers to as "the 3:1:1 rule"). "Liquids" include gels, aerosols, lotions, lip gloss - ANYTHING that can be spilled, sprayed, or "squished". And the container must hold no more than 3 oz. A larger container that is almost empty (containing less than 3 oz.) is not allowed. Transfer the contents to a 3 oz. container.

If you need to carry a larger container of a liquid for medical reasons, you can declare it to the security officer. The only liquids you should take on board are what you need for the flight or the first few days of your vacation (in the event your luggage is delayed).

Also, of course, take any prescription medications (liquid or other) in your carry-on, even if you have to declare it. NEVER pack prescription medication.

  • If you plan to bring a bottle of water (or a soft drink) on the plane, you CANNOT bring it through security. You have to either purchase it after you have gone through security (there are usually plenty of shops that sell water in the waiting areas), or bring an empty bottle and fill it from a drinking fountain later.
  • You WILL have to remove your shoes (along with your jacket and belt) at the security checkpoint. With all of the people walking around, airport floors are not clean. If this bothers you, wear socks (or Ped-type footies) in the airport. You can always take them off later (bring a zip top bag to put them in - you don't want your purse getting smelly!)
  • You will probably need several bins for all of your stuff. Your carry-on won't need a bin, but put your purse/tote in a bin (close it, so things don't fall out). You can put your zip top bag with liquids on top of your purse/tote. This MUST be visible to security, so don't leave it in your tote or carry-on. If it's in your carry-on, TSA must search it, and it slows down the line.
  • Put shoes, belt and jacket in a bin. If you are bringing a laptop (and why would you? - this is a VACATION!), take the computer out of the case and put the laptop and the case in separate bins.
  • Anything metal (keys, large jewelry) should be removed and put into a bowl for this purpose. This is handed to a security officer.

If everything goes smoothly, you should go through the metal detector without problems, and then retrieve your bags and shoes. You might be randomly selected for a search, but following the rules avoids red flags and reduces the probability that you'll face this delay.

For more airport tips:

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