Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tips for Airport Security & What Not to Wear

Airport security can be intimidating and/or annoying, but it really doesn't have to be. There are some fairly simple things you can do to make the whole experience a little smoother for yourself and for your fellow passengers too. No one likes being held up in lines at the airport.

 Can you guess this airport?
walk on the left, stand on the right

How you can help speed up the airport screening process:

- Check your bags and bring less carry-on items. I know it costs money on most airlines these days, but do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and get rid of your bags before entering security. The less you bring through security, the quicker you pass through the screening process. Passengers in line behind you will thank you for it. Win, win.
     * I totally disregarded this tip during my trip to Michigan a couple weeks ago, and just let me say that was one of the less pleasant trips through security I've had in a while. Too much stuff and not enough hands! Anytime you can free up your hands while traveling, it's a good thing. I did check one bag, but I carried on two large items. Not good.

- Arm yourself with a little knowledge ahead of time. You will need to have your boarding pass and proper identification ready. Do yourself a favor and also know the rules for carry-on liquids. No one wants to throw away expensive perfume or makeup. Also have your liquids handy at security, because you will need to remove them from your carry-on bag! This leads me to my next tip.

- Prepare your carry-on bag the night before your flight. Having an organized bag will make things a million times (or at least 10 times) easier once you arrive at the airport. I hate last minute shuffling through my bag because I forgot something needed at security. Pack those things you need in security, like proper identification and liquids, in the top of your bag. This will save your from rummaging through your bag and holding up the security line. A little planning goes a long way.

(you'd be surprised the things people try and carry-on with them)

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Earlier this week I flew to North Carolina, and I found out there are certain types of clothing you should avoid wearing if you don't want a TSA pat down. Let's just say I had my butt patted down (they use the backs of their hands... no biggie), and I'll think twice before wearing a pair of pants with buttons on the back pockets again. The TSA agent I spoke with said to wear simple clothing.

a simple top, skinny jeans, boots, and a cardigan... my travel "uniform" these days

How to minimize your chances of getting a pat down at the airport:

- Clothing: Don't forget to remove everything from pockets. Pants with buttons on back pockets, like I mentioned above, might also make you a candidate for an additional pat down. Apparently clothing with high metal content can make the body scanner machines go crazy too, so beware of sequins and metallic details. I also once had an issue with a dress that had a button sewn into the side seam. These are all things to think about when choosing clothing for your flight.

- Accessories: Just make it easier on yourself and put jewelry on after you pass through security. I always wear my wedding ring through the machines, but I almost never wear any additional jewelry. My typical routine is to place all jewelry in a small pouch inside my carry-on bag the night before my flight, and then I immediately pull it out and put it on after security. I often put scarves on afterwards too.

- Footwear: You will be required to take off your shoes before entering the metal detector or body scanner, so wear proper footwear. Shoes that slip off and on will speed up the lines. Your beautiful wedge heels that have 5 buckles each are probably not proper footwear. Not to mention, if there was an emergency on your flight would you really want to evacuate in heels? Just a thought.

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Over the years I've had my bags, and also my hands, swabbed for explosives at least a few times. It's not scary; I promise. Before the body imaging machines existed, I set off a metal detector and received some additional waves of a handheld metal detector. It was the button on my skirt that did it that time. There will always be unknown variables (weather, delays, etc.) while flying, but you can attempt to minimize the inconveniences of air travel with some awareness and planning ahead of time.

My husband and quite a few people I know make their living in the air, so I'm not bothered by the sometimes inconvenient security rules and regulations. I don't mind taking off my shoes for a minute, and I surely have the ability to pack any large liquids in a checked bag. Yes, I do miss the days when you could greet your friends and family at the arrival gate of an airport, but I also really value the lives of those who fly all of us around for a living. Those people are priceless and worth the extra effort. I'll gladly give up some conveniences if it means safer skies for us all.

flying over North Carolina


  1. LOVE this post! I had a similar experience as you... I had a metallic button design on the rear of my jeans and I definitely got frisked - YIKES!

  2. Great tips and my guess is Detroit :)

  3. Thanks for this post! I try my hardest but I always forget something. I'd add to dress professionally. My dad travels ALL the time & he taught us as little kids that sweatpants weren't ok for flights. As an adult, I understand the merit of this even more. You get treated a wee bit better if you look like you got your "ish" together. Better to not look like you just rolled out of bed!!!

  4. Wow! Thank you for the heads up about the appropriate travel clothes to wear that would not cause delays in the airport security process.