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Tips to Get Through Airport Security Hassle Free

Updated on August 7, 2012
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Picture yourself standing in front of hundreds of people in your underwear. Your bare feet on the tile feel cold, but not as cold as the stares coming from every direction. Time seems to freeze, and then, suddenly, the world around you seems to fly! You cannot move fast enough. Regardless of the speed at which you follow the instructions given, you are never good enough. And the crowd just keeps on staring... Annoyed, bothered, unimpressed. You are trapped in a crowd, wearing nearly nothing, and holding up progress.

Unless you have a solid six pack or a bikini bod, this probably sounds like a nightmare you have had. On multiple occasions. In fact, it may be your worst nightmare.

My friends, this is more than a bad dream, this is a reality that thousands of people face every single day. This is airport security.

Airport security has increased tremendously since 2001. While the added assurance makes flying feel much safer for the hesitant traveler, for the rest of us it can seem more like humiliation than protection. The glazed over stares that penetrate right through you and the mumbles about how slow you are moving can seem worse than death. Is this really the better alternative?!

My friends, while we may not be able to readily change airport security, we can discover ways of making it through with greater ease.

Fortunately, it is possible to make the experience of trekking through security much more enjoyable (or at least, less unenjoyable), faster, and less bothersome. Simply by spending some time considering what you will wear and what you will pack can make a world of difference.

Whether a professional flyer or just starting out, here are some great suggestions to assist you in making it through airport security rapidly, safely, and with less humiliation.

What Not to Wear in the Airport

Source

Bad Things to Wear and Bring When Flying

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Scuba Diving is great, but leave your scuba gear, tanks, and knives in your checked bags.Even if you are an explorer, leave your gear in your checked bags. Indiana Jones would have a terrible time making it through a modern airport.Airports are probably the most racially prejudiced places in the United States - and protected by law. Even if you have traditional clothing you enjoy wearing, consider looking "American" when you fly to keep things simple.Samurai and ninjas cannot bring weapons. In fact, if your arms can be considered guns, you probably cannot fly at all (that is often my problem).Even if it is for a friend you love so dearly, do not bring anything that is flammable or looks like something that you can murder someone with in the game CLUE. Play it safe and avoid as many things as possible that can be used as a weapon.Even if you are a good American missionary coming back from spreading the gospel in the Amazon Jungle, you will not be able to bring back your machete in your carry-on. Be smart and check it.
Scuba Diving is great, but leave your scuba gear, tanks, and knives in your checked bags.
Scuba Diving is great, but leave your scuba gear, tanks, and knives in your checked bags. | Source
Even if you are an explorer, leave your gear in your checked bags. Indiana Jones would have a terrible time making it through a modern airport.
Even if you are an explorer, leave your gear in your checked bags. Indiana Jones would have a terrible time making it through a modern airport. | Source
Airports are probably the most racially prejudiced places in the United States - and protected by law. Even if you have traditional clothing you enjoy wearing, consider looking "American" when you fly to keep things simple.
Airports are probably the most racially prejudiced places in the United States - and protected by law. Even if you have traditional clothing you enjoy wearing, consider looking "American" when you fly to keep things simple. | Source
Samurai and ninjas cannot bring weapons. In fact, if your arms can be considered guns, you probably cannot fly at all (that is often my problem).
Samurai and ninjas cannot bring weapons. In fact, if your arms can be considered guns, you probably cannot fly at all (that is often my problem). | Source
Even if it is for a friend you love so dearly, do not bring anything that is flammable or looks like something that you can murder someone with in the game CLUE. Play it safe and avoid as many things as possible that can be used as a weapon.
Even if it is for a friend you love so dearly, do not bring anything that is flammable or looks like something that you can murder someone with in the game CLUE. Play it safe and avoid as many things as possible that can be used as a weapon. | Source
Even if you are a good American missionary coming back from spreading the gospel in the Amazon Jungle, you will not be able to bring back your machete in your carry-on. Be smart and check it.
Even if you are a good American missionary coming back from spreading the gospel in the Amazon Jungle, you will not be able to bring back your machete in your carry-on. Be smart and check it. | Source

We can learn a lot from the above picture. Just as Michael Phelps shaves his legs to streamline himself in the Olympics, removing unneeded items from your person will help you make it through airport security at Olympic speeds.

THINGS TO AVOID BRINGING

A Big Coat: Unless it is absolutely cold, avoid bringing a coat, jacket, or blazer. It will have to be removed. Save yourself time and have it off already. If you are sure you need to bring one, try to have room for it in your carry-on so that you do not have to pile it into another security box.

A Watch: Today is the age of technology. Everyone should have a cellphone. That phone tells the time. Leave your watch at home - or at least keep it in your bag during security. Your flight will leave at the same time whether or not you are wearing your watch - just keep moving as fast as you can.

Any Kind of Jewelry: "But I'm so good looking with my bling on! People cannot get enough of me with my beautiful earrings". Trust me, no one is going to be appreciating your hidden piercings when the buzzer goes off and everyone has to wait for you to discretely remove your jewelry. Just keep it all off from the start.

A Hat: It is likely that you will have to remove your cap as well. Either plan accordingly so that you can move fast, or keep it in your bag until you make it through the scanner.

Boots and Fancy Shoes: Your shoes WILL have to come off! Women, now is not the time to wear your intricately tied shoes that lace half-way up your leg. Yes, they are attractive. No, the airport is not the place to impress guys at the expense of the line. And both genders, leave the boots at home. Even if your a cowboy, I'm sure that you will be able to make it safely through the entire flight without needing to wrangle cattle.

Studded and Complex Belts: You will also have to remove any belts that you are wearing. If at all possible, wear clothing that does not require a belt. If, however, a belt is an important addition to the wardrobe, simply plan ahead and have it off by the time you are front-and-center in the security line.

Weapons of Any Kind: Unless you are the Queen of England taking a sword to America to knight someone, leave your weapons at home. In fact, the Queen may even have a struggle successfully carrying her sword on board. If you keep all weapons, explosives, and other such items at home, you will not only keep the passengers of the plane safer, but you will prevent yourself from going to jail. Even things such as school scissors can get you into trouble.

Filled Up Water Bottles: Although you probably will not be able to drowned someone with a bottle of water, the potential of liquid explosives being involved requires all water bottles to be empty. Make sure that your bottles are empty and you will save yourself much more embarrassment and hassle.

What to Wear When Flying

Source

Ultimately, the best way to go through airport security is by being a clothing minimalist. If a guy is comfortable wearing board shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops, he will be loved by all who follow behind him in the line. Similarly, the woman who can sport some classy tights with a simple top and slip-on shoes will be the envy of every man standing in line next to his ready-for-the-Oscars dressed woman.

Of course, many of us prefer to look semi-decent - even when we travel. And actually, it is a much better idea to be dressed well. I have discovered that I receive much better service when I dress to impress. Additionally, if anyone is going to be bumped up to first-class, it will be the person who looks like they belong, not the dude with the dreads and pierced nose.

Therefore, for the semi-classy dresser, here is what to consider wearing when flying:

Easy to Remove Belt: If you can quickly slide off and pull back on your belt, it is perfect for the airport. Being able to remove and replace ones clothing with ease is fantastic when flying.

Jacket in Bag: The efficient traveler will have her coat tucked away nicely in her bag. Yes, it will get cold on the plane and she will be ready - but she will not need to carry it around beforehand.

Slip on Shoes: It is not necessary to wear flip-flops, but loafers or other shoes that do not need to be laced will make security a breeze.

No Change in Pockets: Any and all metal will draw attention to oneself. If it is an Olympic Gold Medal, you may want to attract attention. If it is a quarter or paper clip, probably not so much. Make sure that your pockets are clear of metal.

Security-Friendly Accessories: Items such as ties can look great and do not need to be removed during a security screening. This is a great addition to look a step classier without holding up the line - a true sign of a gentleman (classy, but not making others wait for him).


How to Pack: Security-Safe

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Even the Old Spice Man cannot take his body wash on the plane. Be smart and keep your liquids to 3 oz. in a one quart bag.You will have to remove your laptop and other big electronics from the rest of your baggage. Make sure that they are easily accessible.Keep your liquids in an easy to access place so that you can remove them quickly during screening.
Even the Old Spice Man cannot take his body wash on the plane. Be smart and keep your liquids to 3 oz. in a one quart bag.
Even the Old Spice Man cannot take his body wash on the plane. Be smart and keep your liquids to 3 oz. in a one quart bag. | Source
You will have to remove your laptop and other big electronics from the rest of your baggage. Make sure that they are easily accessible.
You will have to remove your laptop and other big electronics from the rest of your baggage. Make sure that they are easily accessible. | Source
Keep your liquids in an easy to access place so that you can remove them quickly during screening.
Keep your liquids in an easy to access place so that you can remove them quickly during screening. | Source

Packing Bags for Security

Airports scan everything that enters. Both the people and the luggage. Often times you may be asked to remove particular items from a bag. Being able to quickly and easily remove these items will keep the crowd behind you from kicking you off of the airplane without a parachute.

Just to be safe, keep all electronics and liquids near the front/top of your bag. These are often items that security will demand to be presented separately from the suitcase. Frequent Fliers may throw a huge fit in the middle of the airport if they unexpectedly find themselves trapped behind one of these "electronics and liquids at the bottom of the bag" packers. In fact, you will likely be sneered at and mocked later on while this passenger is sharing stories with other elite in the frequent fliers lounge.

If traveling with kids, keep an eye on the packing process very carefully. A little pocket knife or toy car in the pocket can slow down the entire process. However, kids that have been trained accordingly should not be much of a hassle when flying.

All-in-all, know what is in your carry-on and where it is. If you do this, not only are your chances of getting stopped minimized, but even if you are stopped, you will quickly be able to assess and recover from this travesty.

Surviving the Unfriendly Skies

In today's fast-paced world flying has become more of a necessary annoyance than the novel magic that it was 75 years ago. This is truly sad because the act of zooming through the air in a giant piece of medal, pushed by huge engines burning rocket fuel, is pretty impressive.

Even if the security process is a pain in the neck, the crowds get upset at you, and you realize that you left something important at home, try to enjoy the experience. Bring a book or magazine, do some window shopping (don't buy more than you can carry), and watch several airplanes take off.

Rediscover the magic in flight and the inconveniences won't seem as bad.


Many people have had terrible and hilarious experiences while flying. Share your airport security stories below! Maybe you will find others who have had similar adventures.

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    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @catalina - good question! My answer is that you will have trouble no matter what. Lol. In all seriousness, they have a special line you can go through if that is the case. Additonally, I think the new security scanners online view what is outside.

      @freecampingaussie: good to know about clippers! But that is rough. And I can only imagine how much more exciting a pacemaker creates! Thanks for sharing.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      @ Robert Erich--LOL... hahaha... indeed!

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 5 years ago from Southern Spain

      I loved your hub ! My husband has his toenail clippers off him at the airport ! Can you imagine him threatning anyone with them lol! We can take water onboard here but we have an interesting time as my husband has a pacemaker !

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      It's true - sometimes you feel like streaking through is the best bet. Certainly a crazy experience! Have a great time the next time you fly.

    • Casey Karapetian profile image

      Casey Karapetian 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      Very nice hub. Often times, I find myself taking off a lot of stuff and trying to be quick about it so that i don't hold up the line and I always have the fear the the detector will set off. This has some really good tips. thanks

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Hahaha! Well thank you for stopping by and printing my work talfonso. I think you are one of the first. And I certainly hope you have an epic trip the next time you travel via flight!

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      The good ol' TSA - the airport security officials who an make or break a happy travel (business trip or luxury vacation)! Your Hub really is so useful for us whenever we have to face them! I'm bookmarking, printing this out and placing it in my carry-on so I can fly happy! Rated it up, useful, funny. awesome, and interesting!

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @DizyMsLizzy: You have some great points and you are really not missing out much on not flying. You are absolutely correct - the security does very little to actually protect and more to simply make people "feel" like something is happening.

      @wordscribe: I really would like to hear the story behind the shapewear! Hahaha! I bet that is a fantastic story to tell at dinner parties.

      @Night Magic: Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your reading of the article.

    • Night Magic profile image

      Night Magic 5 years ago from Canada

      Loved your Hub. I also liked your style of writing. Everything was to the point and at the same time it was humerus. Thanks for the tips. I'll be flying this winter and it's been awhile so I will be reading this Hub once again before I go. Voted it up, useful, funny & interesting.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Great article! I'm going to add shapewear with any kind of underwire to the list. I won't get into the humiliating details, but suffice it to say the TSA had quite the heyday one day with me. Ugh. Congrats on HOTD- nicely done.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Congratulations on HOTD. Useful info on how to dress...or not dress...LOL--you had some great images.

      I've not had to deal with any of this for two main reasons:

      1) I used to love to fly, but have become afraid to since the 9-11 attacks;

      2) It is no longer in my budget: If I can't get there by car, I can't go.

      A lot of this so-called "security" instigated by the Department of Homeland Paranoia, is little but window-dressing and grandstanding. In truth, a "baddie" who is truly motivated can still manage to slip through.

      Water? Please! How about I open the bottle and take a drink right in front of you, to prove it's harmless, plain water?!

      Pocket knives? Well, you can damage someone with that...but I will not go anywhere without it, as to me, it's a TOOL, not a very useful weapon. (So--put in in the checked luggage!) A danged dinner fork (even a plastic one) can be used as a weapon...and that's why I think a lot of this security checking is nonsense.

      It used to be that we could go to the airport, go to the gate, and see departing guests off properly. Now, you can't even enter the concourse without a ticket, so there's not much point in paying to park to see your guests off--drop them at the curb drop-off point, and let the skycaps help with their luggage. It has truly become the UNfriendly skies....

    • FBNaturalR profile image

      FBNaturalR 5 years ago

      Whenever I went through airport security, I did most of what you mentioned above. I went ahead and loosened my shoestrings so my shoes slipped on and off, and then my belt and anything in my pockets (except for ID and airline ticket) went into the carry-on bag. I'd have put a watch and other jewelry in there to if I wore that.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the stories and comments! I wish you the best in your future writing and flying endeavors.

    • Mr Crimxen profile image

      Allen-Michael Harber 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      I always get stuck behind these types of travelers who are never prepared. It's a good thing I always arrive earlier or I would never make it to my flight on time. Some of the things you mentioned I can use to make it easier on myself and others. Thank you for the interesting and informative read.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      What great tips! I should print this hub and start passing it out in the airport because I always get stuck behind the woman with the jewelry, the belt and the high heels.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very entertaining and useful. Only had a problem when my husband's electric razor turned on and security yelled "There is something vibrating in the suitcase". Also we left my son's bright green water gun in the stroller once. Congrats on HOD!

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I am glad you enjoyed the photos Natasha. I really had no idea that it would become this wide read when I posted them. Lol. I suppose putting yourself out there is what gets you seen! I will have to check out your airport article as well.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I love all your photos! And I couldn't agree more. I have a hub on flight travel tips with a section about getting through security - I need to link your hub! I just got back from an air travel trip. Lines would go so much more quickly if everyone just planed ahead a little.

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      You are absolutely right! We love to see what we can get away with... To the disappointment of everyone stuck behind us.

    • gajanis786 profile image

      gajanis786 5 years ago

      Very useful hub.....interestingly, the fact is that most of us do know these points to be given much importance, but out of human psyche we try to avoid these precautions conveniently, believing that it will be all ok with us and ultimately suffer a lot at the airport security. Thank you.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Ha ha ha....I can't help it.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I am glad that you both enjoyed the article. I am sorry to hear that you don't have much luck there krsharp. I am confident it is because of the menacing look - no doubt. ;)

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Hilarious. Was considering my machete, have since changed my mind. I can't tell you how many times I've been the one who the guards pull to the side and frisk. My bags have been torn apart in nearly every major city and not because I carry concealed weapons, I think it's because I look so menacing. Excellent job! -K

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Many practical tips presented here and I love how you incorporate humour as well. This hub was definitely entertaining and educational.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Thanks Angela, I'm glad you stopped by to comment. And yes, skipping out on the airport hassle is not a bad idea. There are a lot of struggles. And even though you don't fly much, you were selected for the special search! Lucky you. ;) Hopefully next time will go more smoothly.

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for all the great info -- I despise flying so don't do it unless it's an absolute emergency, etc. -- and as it's been so long since I've flown it's good to know what's going on right now. The last time I experienced the pre-flight search was in Denver, CO., and I was the one chosen for the BIG search among my line. It went well and didn't take long -- but it was a definite head's up as to what to take and what to leave -- your information is very, very helpful. Best/Sis

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @Geja: I have mad respect for you when it comes to the security lines (and a bit of envy when it comes to flying around for work - although I know it is not all easy). Thanks for adding to the content and maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to be on your flight!

      @Om: It's a bummer, I know. Why doesn't like to fly in costume? lol. I am glad you enjoyed the article. Keep up the great writing yourself!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      No scuba mask or samurai sword? No fun! LOL Well, thanks for the useful tips and amusingly quirky photos. I'll keep your advice in mind when I travel.

    • Geja8856 profile image

      Geja8856 5 years ago

      "and do not give the flight crew mean looks when they cut in line either!" I have no time to wait and even though you're probably not on my flight, the guy behind you might be, so step on it and stop bringing things that aren't necessary. Check in your luggage instead of dragging it with you. :)

      Good article! As a Flight Attendant, I walk through Airport Security on a daily basis at least once a day. It's hard to understand why people do the things they do. They'll wear all the jewelry they own and then.. well you know the rest..

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Very true Riverfish. More people need your wisdom. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • Riverfish24 profile image

      Riverfish24 5 years ago from United States

      Nice hub, so useful and funny :). Great job!! I have never understood why people'dress up' when flying, its not a social event!!!

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Hahaha! You're right, I'll just stay home too. ;)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      Clearly you have never been thru airport security with my husband who loves to wear dark sunglasses, big belts and photographer vests with 400 pockets. It's scary!

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I am glad that you both enjoyed! Don't stay home too much - there are so many awesome things to see!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      I am exhausted just thinking about it. I think I'll stay home! Great advice though.

    • dghbrh profile image

      deergha 5 years ago from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!!

      Nice one....informative as well as practical.

      votes up and sharing too:-)

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Wow! That is awesome advice greatstuff. Thanks a lot for sharing. I will certainly have to keep my mind on this when I get to the Middle East. I appreciate it!

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Robert, this is another great article from you. For those of you who may be travelling to the Middle East, some countries may even ask if you have downloaded any movies on your laptop hard drive or thumb drive. You might be slowed down for this reason. So if you need to bring your laptop with you, delete those movies and photos that may put you in trouble.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Thank you both.

      @watergeek: Photos of clouds! That sounds awesome. I will certainly keep my eyes open.

      @Jill: Thanks again. I am glad you appreciated it.

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Very interesting hub!! I really enjoyed the humor you mixed in with the facts you presented. Voted up and shared with my friends!

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

      I haven't had problems except for taking a too big water bottle in my carry-on . . . oh, and toothpaste too. I learned quickly, but it was frustrating. What I do to make the flight interesting? Sudoku, a good book, photographing clouds. Keep an eye out for future hubs with cloud photos (lol). This was very funny, Robert. Thanks for writing it the way you did.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Those are some great suggestions Michael. Thanks. And yes, consistency sure would make things nice. I've only flown into Sydney and Cairns airports in Australia. But I must say, both were nicer than in the US. I didn't feel like I had to completely strip down.

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      Love the photos! In Australia the security arrangements differ from Airport to Airport. In Adelaide I never trigger the alarm, but my belt has tripped it in Sydney! In Adelaide & Brisbane you never get asked to show your liquids, but you do need to in Sydney, Melbourne & Perth. Consistency would be a great help to make your passage through security a lot faster.

      Another tip, when travelling with a person who has a hip replacement, separate at the airport and go in front of them as they will delay you! Cheers Michael

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      That sounds like an entertaining experience indeed. Good to hear nothing to crazy has taken you off guard. Wish you the best as you keep traveling!

    • Volitans profile image

      Volitans 5 years ago from Seattle

      Nice hub, voted up, interesting, and useful. I've flown more than I care to the past few years; thankfully, I've done my homework and never had any negative experiences... Other than the kitchen mixer we had to disassemble and stuff into a suitcase. That got some curious looks from the security screeners.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Well I am certainly glad you enjoyed the article! I appreciate your interest and I certainly hope that the benefits assist countless crowds striving to survive the struggles of the airport. ;)

    • thesingernurse profile image

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Seriously, this is very useful. Just don't mind the funny antics captured in photos. Hahaha!

      You did it again Robert. If I can only press the vote up button several times more, just so each vote would count, I would do that. Unfortunately, I'm only allowed to do it once.

      Sharing this great hub of yours with my friends. :)