How to Go Through Airport Security Like a Pro

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Ok, so nobody goes through like a pro anymore.  The ever changing rules are made to make it as awkward and silly as possible.  But since I can still get through quickly if not easily, I thought I’d share some tips.

First off, if you are checking a bag, check everything except your book and life will be much easier.  Just remember to take off your shoes and belt (or don’t wear a belt), and you’ll be set.  Oh, and your jacket.

If, like me, you hate checking a bag, here’s what you need to do:

  1. First, put all your liquids, like toothpaste, in a plastic baggie.  You can do this at home, but if you forget most airports have plastic baggies handy for you. DIA does.  Make sure
    that none of your liquid containers hold more than 3 ounces.  (That’s
    like one of those travel size bottles of mouth wash or toothpaste.)  No full water bottles.  (You can take an empty bottle through and fill it at the fountain in the terminal.) Then
    take all of the liquids and put them in a
    ziploc bag and put it in a very easy to access pocket of your carryon.
    I’ve found that liquids are the most overlooked thing in security, so
    if you forgot to put your toothpaste in the baggie, don’t panic.  When
    you go through security you will need to take this baggie out and put
    it in one of the plastic bins.
  2. Next, everything in your pockets should be stowed away in your bag.  You can do this while you are waiting in line. I have a pocket in my briefcase I reserve for the "everything in my pockets" including my watch.
  3. Laptop. Your laptop will need to go through in a bin of its own so have it handy.  I put both my plastic baggie of liquids and my laptop in the outside pockets of my rollaboard all by themselves so it’s easy to pull them out.
  4. Jacket.  Jackets must come off.  Sometimes if you’re a woman they’ll let you slide by in your suit jacket.  Sometimes they won’t.
  5. Shoes.  All shoes must come off and go through the xray machine.
  6. Belts.  Not all belts have to come off but it saves a lot of time to just take it off and run it through the xray machine with your shoes.  If the machine you walk through beeps, you might have to go through extra security steps like being wanded.
  7. Boarding pass.  In some airports you will need to hold your boarding pass in your hand as you step through the scanner.  (You don’t in DIA but you do in San Jose, San Francisco, etc.)

So at this point you will have your suitcase, your purse or briefcase and two bins (one with your laptop or video camera and one with your shoes, belt, and jacket) plus you will need to hold your boarding pass in your hand.  So as best you can slide the bins and your bags through the xray machine.  Walk through the scanner with your boarding pass and then put yourself together on the other end!  I always store my laptop first and then put on my shoes – but that’s all personal preference.  (I walked off without my laptop once which is why I always grab it first.)

Lately I’ve found that getting in line behind kids is actually a good thing.  They take off their shoes much faster than the adults, don’t wear belts, and don’t carry suitcases full of things that might make security suspicious.

Photo by plugimi.