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Airport Security Checklist: How to Get Through Airport Security Faster?


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Airport security checklist, updated in 2022.

Going through airport security. Oh, it can feel like a hell. Especially, if you aren’t prepared for it. If you are a newbie traveler, you may be overwhelmed by the whole airport security check experience. What exactly should you be prepared for? What items are and what aren’t allowed in carry-on bag? How long does it take to go through airport security? How can you get through security faster?

This article answers commonly asked questions about going through security at airport. So, even if you don’t need it now, save the guide for later!

Luggage belt at an airport
Luggage belt at an airport

Airport Security Checklist: How to Get Through Airport Security Faster?

1. Know the Airport Security Rules 

There are certain rules when it comes to airport security.

The basics are the same all around the world.

You can’t bring any guns, self-defence items, knives or any other sharp objects. Full-size toiletries are not allowed either. Don’t bring any restricted items to airport security. Otherwise, you’ll be ask to throw them out.

Keep in mind, that you are allowed to bring only travel-size toiletries (liquids, creams, gels and pastes) in bottles and containers that are no bigger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml). You need to keep toiletries in a separate resealable plastic bag (Ziploc bag). Maximum size of the bag: 1 litre (quart). Usually these resealable bags are around 7” x 8” (17.8 x 20.3 cm).

When going through airport security, mostly you need to:

  • take out laptop, tablet, etc. (all electronics bigger than a phone)
  • take out power banks
  • empty your pockets
  • take off anything with metal in it (for example, a belt)

You have to put them in a tray, or several trays.

We recommend you to take out all of this while you are still in line. Or at least to prepare for that, by recounting all the items that you are going to take out of your bag and pockets. Don’t be that one person who holds up the line!

1.1 Pack Toiletries the Right Way

You can bring only travel-size toiletries in your carry-on bag.

All full-size items have to go in your checked baggage.

Travel-size toiletries must be packed in a quart-sized (1 litre) Ziploc other zip-top bag. If you don’t have a zip-top bag, mostly you can get them at airport security. However, not all airports provide them. So, it is better to have them with you.

1.2 Put All Food Items in One Bag

Can you bring food through airport security?

In carry on, you are allowed to pack solid food items such as fruit, sandwich, chocolate, crackers, cookies, etc. However, you aren’t allowed to bring any liquid foods in amounts exceeding 3.4 ounces (100ml). 

If you are traveling with an infant, you are allowed to take baby food (e.g. purees, gel, milk) in reasonable quantities.  However, you will still need to demonstrate all these foods and liquids to the security officer. As the food will be screened separately, it’s better to put all food items in one bag. It will be easier to for you, and you won’t hold up the line.

People waiting for their flight
People waiting for their flight at the gate

2. Wear the Right Clothes and Footwear

Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. 

You could be asked to take off your shoes at airport security. The bigger your footwear, the higher chances of that. Having shoes that you can easily take off will save time and get you through the security line quicker. 

Wear soft and comfortable clothing that doesn’t dig into your skin. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers, in case it’s too cold or too hot on the plane. Don’t wear excessive jewellery and, if possible, do not wear a belt. The worst are belts with metal parts, and especially the ones that are hard to take off / put back on. 

If a belt has metal parts, you will definitely need to take it off.

2.1 Remove Your Belt, Keys and Other Metal Objects

Can you wear jewelry through airport security?

Yes, but only if it’s very fine. Otherwise, it will trigger the metal detector.

You have to remove all the metal objects. That includes belts, jewellery, watches. Take the phone out of your pocket. Take out the coins and keys. Put all of that in the special airport security tray. You can’t bring those items through the metal detector as they will set if off. 

What I like to do is to put the metal items in my jacket. I do it shortly before the airport security check. So when I take off my jacket, I don’t have to put each item in the bin and collect them in the end.

What I like to do is to put the metal items in my jacket. I do it shortly before the airport security check. So when I take off my jacket, I don’t have to put each item in the bin and collect them in the end.

3. Check In Your Bag

Check in your bag to to speed up passenger screening at airports.

In addition to checking in your bag, pack light. Going through security with a small bag is more convenient and reduces waiting time.

However, it’s understandable why many travel with a carry-on bag only. Many airlines (now also including some full-service airlines, like KLM and Lufthansa) charge a fee to check in a bag. And many travelers understandably want to save money on baggage fees. That’s why more and more people are traveling light — with a small suitcase or backpack. Many started doing so after the travel chaos of spring / summer 2022.

If you are not planning to check in your bag, take out your personal electronic devices (e.g., laptop, tablet, e-reader, handheld game console), power bank and the Ziplock bag containing liquids. Do this while you are still in line. This will reduce waiting time at the X-ray.

4. Avoid Major Holidays

Avoid traveling during major holidays.

It is when everyone travels, and there are ridiculously long lines at the airport. Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are some of the busiest times for travel industry. Because many people like to travel abroad then.

Also avoid spring break. Not only lines at the airport may be long, but also a number of beach destinations will be packed with young partygoers. 

Airport signboard
Airport signboard

5. Avoid Flights That Depart at Peak Travel Times

Avoid peak times such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It’s when business travelers are traveling home from work, and leisure travelers are going on weekend trips. Mondays are also busy — it’s when business travelers are flying for work.

The best time to travel is early morning on a weekday (except for Monday). If you are not an early bird, then flying very late is also a good option. 

Keep in mind that flight schedules can vary from airport to airport. Check the schedules before booking a flight. Some airports might be very busy early morning and during late evening.

6. Sign Up for TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is a program that allows you to go through TSA security check faster. If you live in the US or you are traveling in the US frequently, consider signing up for TSA PreCheck membership program. It will save you a lot of time and hassle when traveling in/from the US.

This membership program allows you to go through security faster. With TSA PreCheck, it will take you around 5 minutes to pass through security. As you might already know, waiting at the line for a “regular screening” may take you much longer than that, especially if you are traveling during the peak times. It make also take an hour or more.

There are separate lines (which are waaaay shorter) for TSA PreCheck passengers. In addition to that, they often don’t have to take off their shoes, belts and can leave their laptops and liquids in their luggage. 

TSA PreCheck is available in more than 200 airports, both for domestic and international flights. Some 80 airlines participate in TSA PreCheck program. Keep in mind that TSA PreCheck is not guaranteed on every flight.

Another great membership program for frequent travelers is Global Entry.

It offers the same benefits as TSA PreCheck. And in addition to that, it simplifies the customs process for passengers returning back to the States. You can enter the country through automatic kiosks. Global Entry is available at select airports.

7. Buy Fast Track Pass

Consider purchasing an airport fast pass.

If your trip is scheduled during the peak hours, it is a good idea to buy a fast track pass. A fast track is a dedicated checkpoint with a separate priority line. It is the fastest way to pass through airport security. As you don’t need to wait in a long line, you’ll get into the departures terminal very quickly, even if it’s peak travel time. Every airport offer their own fast track service.

Also fast track will come in handy if you travel with children.

8. Be Nice and Kind to Everyone

A little kindness goes a long way.

Especially when communicating with security officers and other airport staff. Their jobs are often stressful and exhausting. It’s nice when someone’s kind, don’t you think? On the contrary, if you are yelling, groaning and complaining, it may get you in a big trouble.

Anything you would add? What are your best tips for getting through airport security check faster? Are you using fast track passes?

About the author:

Co-founder and Editor at Connecting Flights Guide

Una is an organized globetrotter and foodie who’s been living a digital nomad lifestyle since 2013. She always starts her day early with a good book before diving into work. Apart from traveling and aviation, her other passions include gym, hiking and cycling. Una is also a strong proponent of AI technology. She firmly believes in its potential to simplify life and has often advocated for its wider adoption in our day-to-day activities. Her favorite airlines are Qatar Airways, Emirates, and KLM.


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This article may contain compensated links. Learn more in our disclaimer.

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