Travel is unpredictable. The taxi to the airport that doesn’t show, a cancelled flight, or approaching airport security to encounter a sea of travelers. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, the first step in preparing for your journey should include steps to pave the way for a smooth experience in the security line.
Begin by memorizing the 3-1-1- rule. This rule applies to liquids and gels for carry-ons. Pack the following:
- 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottles or less
- in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag
- 1 bag per passenger
Following this rule will ensure a faster and smoother experience in the security line. For greater convenience, purchase a TSA Compliant Quart Pouch with Liquid Bottles or GoToob Squeezable Travel Tubes. These products meet the TSA 3-1-1 guidelines and include a plastic pouch and reusable plastic travel bottles.
Larger liquids such as medications, baby formula/food and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding 3 ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. These items must be declared to a security officer at the checkpoint. If you are in doubt about larger liquids, pack them in your checked luggage instead of your carry-on. To learn more about liquids/gels and the 3-1-1 rule check out www.tsa.gov/311.
When packing your carry-on, pack in layers to make it easier for transportation security officers to see the contents of your bag. Innocent items can appear to be potential threats in an X-ray image simply because of how they are packed. For example, pack a layer of clothes, then electronics, more clothes, then heavier items. To keep the contents of your bag organized and easy to view, use Travelon View Thru Packing Organizers or Set of 3 Packing Squares. These handy packing cubes feature convenient ViewThru™ panels that allow easy access to clothing and may help speed up security inspections. Stay organized by also using Laminated Mesh Packing Envelopes that provide quick content identification, offer maximum organization and facilitate today's security procedures.
When you reach the airport security checkpoint, be ready to present your boarding pass and identification. Acceptable forms of ID are listed on TSA’s website here- http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/apis_documents.pdf. Being prepared with your documents, will help speed the process at the checkpoint and potentially avoid additional screening. A TSA Compliant Quart Pouch with Liquid Bottles or PacSafe Pouchsafe 200 ID Boarding Pass Holder will help you have your documents available, accessible and in view for security officers leaving you hands-free to handle your carry-ons and other valuables as you go through the security checkpoint.
If you travel with a laptop, be aware of these checkpoint friendly laptop bag procedures. TSA encourages laptop bags that offer a clear, unobstructed image of the laptop for X-ray screening. This type of bag makes it more likely that your laptop can remain in the bag for screening; however it does not guarantee it. If a security officer finds that the bag does not present a clear image of the laptop, the laptop will have to be removed and screened separately. A sleeve-style bag such as the Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Protector may help speed up your checkpoint time by avoiding the extra step of having to remove your laptop from its bag. Butterfly and trifold styles that offer a clear view of your laptop are also encouraged by TSA.
Tips to help ensure a smooth journey through security include the following:
- Wear slip-on shoes. This will allow you to take them off and put them back on quickly, without having to sit down. All footwear must be removed for X-ray screening.
- Avoid wearing accessories that contain metal, which will set off the metal detector. Transportation security officers have to identify any metal that is detected at the checkpoint. If the metal detector alarms when you pass through, you will be required to undergo additional screening. This includes a hand-wand and pat-down inspection.
- Pack all your coats and jackets in your checked baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine for inspection.
- If carrying a firearm, please check with your airline for appropriate procedures.
- Do not wrap gifts. If a security officer needs to inspect a package, they may have to unwrap your gift. Wait until you've reached your final destination to wrap gifts.
- Undeveloped film should go in your carry-on bag. You will able to declare film that is faster than 800-speed to a transportation security officer for physical inspection to avoid being X-rayed.
If you are in doubt about whether you can bring an item through the checkpoint, put it in your checked bag or leave it at home. Check www.tsa.gov for the most up-to-date security policies before leaving on your journey. And, arrive on time to give yourself time to check-in and move through security. Make the first step of your journey as smooth and predictable as possible by planning ahead. Remember, travel is unpredictable. Maybe you'll be bumped to first-class!