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FAQ – How to breeze through airport security, in 7 easy steps!

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I was just at a conference in Winnipeg, and I caught a ride back to the airport with one of the other attendees. She seemed a bit nervous about what to do at security – what goes where, what do they look for, etc. and had a lot of questions for me, so I figured I’d write a post since some of you might also have some questions. I’ve posted about carry-on luggage a few times, so it makes sense that I should now talk about how to prepare your carry-on to get yourself through security as efficiently as possible.

It’s all about being organized! It’ll help you get to your gate faster, the security guards will be friendlier, and it’ll make the people behind you happy. Wins all around! (Hint: the person behind you could be me. I fly almost every week. Let me help you make my life easier.)

This is my personal advice, based on what I do when I travel. I’ve heard a million stories from other people, who have gotten away with a bunch of stuff, and that might be you too. However, by following this list, you can be certain that you will fy through security.

1. Have your travel documents in hand – boarding pass and ID!

2. Make sure that your laptop and 3-1-1 bag are within easy reach

3. Make sure that your pockets are empty

4. Take off any jackets/hats/scarves/belts

5. Take off your shoes.

6. Know what’s in your bag

7. Get out of there quick!


1. Travel documents

I’m not going to lie guys, this is my biggest pet peeve. You check in, and about twenty feet farther is the security check point. Hang on to your boarding pass! If you’re like me and you want to eat and sometimes shop before you head to security, make sure that you keep your ID and boarding pass together in an easy to access place. The time to look for your boarding pass is NOT when you are standing in front of the agent!20130520-103227.jpg

2. 3-1-1 bags

A 3-1-1 bag is a small ziploc bag in which you put whatever liquids that you are taking on the plane. You can use the ones that the airport gives you, but a regular sandwich sized bag works too.

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– Make sure that all your liquids are together in one bag.

– Make sure that your liquids are under 3oz/100ml. I recommend putting your liquids in bottles that are 100ml or less. I’ve heard from other people that it’s ok to use bigger bottles as long as they are not full, but since there’s no way of proving how much liquid you’ve got, I’ve also heard about security agents not letting them through. If you run out during your trip, you can easily buy refills anywhere. The only thing that I haven’t been able to find everywhere is contact solution. If you are going on a longer trip and bringing only carry-on, I would bring more little bottles of contact solution, and bring dry versions of the other toiletteries I need, or buy them when I get there. TurnipseedTravel has compiled a beautiful list of options for you.

– Make sure that the bag is the right size.

– Make sure that it’s quickly accessible. There’s nothing worse than holding up the line because you’re rummaging through your suitcase, trying to find your little bag.

2.5 Electronics

The only thing that I’ve ever been asked to take out is my laptop, and that’s every time I’ve travelled. Be prepared!

3. Make sure that your pockets are empty

I’m just talking about metal here – change, jewellery, watches: these all need to go through the scanner. Otherwise, they’ll send you back and forth until they figure out what’s beeping.

4. Take off any jackets/hats/scarves/belts

Doing this means that they don’t have to ask you! I promise, they’ll love you.

5. Take off your shoes. You don’t always need to, but doing it in advance means that you’re set if they do ask you.

I just went through security wearing new Keen slip on shoes. The agent looked at them and told me to keep them on, and they beeped – apparently, there’s a metal shank through the bottom. Now I know! Two options: make sure your shoes are metal free, or just take them off.

6. Know what’s in your bag – toss any liquids, and leave awkwardly shaped things at home.

This kept happening to me: I have a nifty key chain that’s a spoon handle. EVERY TIME I go through security with it, they pull me aside and check by bag. They always let me leave with it, but I’ve decided it’s not worth the extra time, so I just leave it at home now. Same goes for you – know what you’re travelling with!

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7. Get out of there quick!

Once you’re through the metal detector and your bags are out, pick up your things and organize your bag somewhere else. This especially helps when it’s busy. At a certain point, when everyone puts on their shoes and belts right after the detector, the conveyor belt gets too full of bins to continue rolling, and stops the whole process. They have handy chairs and tables a few feet away from most security areas – use them, and help everyone out!

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One thought on “FAQ – How to breeze through airport security, in 7 easy steps!

  1. Very good advice Alex!!

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