Going through airport security can be one of the most stressful parts of traveling if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even if you do travel often, being rushed through a long line while hoping no one will need to rummage through your personal belongings isn’t exactly relaxing.
In order to make this process as painless as possible, you need to be prepared. Being as familiar with guidelines as the airport staff is one surefire way to pass through security smoothly and swiftly.
Need a quick rule reminder? Take a look at this basic guide on getting through airport security.
Know Your Carry-ons
Before you stroll up to the security check point with two duffle bags, a guitar and a bag of food, know what is considered a carry-on and how many you’re allowed to have. For most airlines, passengers are allowed one carry-on and one personal item, such as a purse, laptop, briefcase or small backpack. How big is your carry-on allowed to be? This is dependent on the airline, so if you have any concerns go to your airline’s website. On average, an international flight carry-on should be no larger than 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches and weigh no more than 35 pounds. Again, this varies by airline, so the best way to find this information is by checking for yourself. With every flight, there is a chance that you will need to check your carry-on bag at the last minute due to insufficient space. Always keep your most important personal items, such as money and personal electronics, in the smaller bag considered your personal item in case your carry-on needs to be placed in storage with checked bags.
Remember the Liquid Rule
The 3-1-1 liquid rule has been repeated so many times that people might forget what it actually means. In case you turn off your brain every time you hear this rule because you think you know it (but just realized you’re not sure if you do), we’ll break it down for you one more time. The 3 in this sequence stands for three ounces, or about 100 milliliters. This means that containers filled with more than three ounces of liquid or gel are not permitted. Check the label before packing to make sure it’s okay. The first 1 stands for the one quart-sized bag that all of your liquid or gel items must fit into. The second 1 means that each passenger is only allowed to bring one quart-sized bag of non-solid items.
Pack your Medications Correctly
If you have medications that don’t fit the standard carry-on rules, remain calm. If you need insulin, you can break the liquid rule. If you need an epi-pen, you can break the no-pointy-objects rule. Airlines are concerned about your safety, so of course they’ll let you pack important items such as these in your carry-on bag. However you do need to follow some guidelines. In order to avoid any trouble with medications, be sure to declare them at the security check-in. This means you need to take them out of your bag and place them in a bin. You should pack prescribed medications in their original packaging so that security can see it is indeed prescribed to you. International travelers need to obtain a note from their doctors saying that they are in need of these medications. The note should have a formal letter head and be signed by your doctor. You might also want to practice explaining your medication in your destination’s language in case any concerns do arise.
Prepare to be Identified
Before you even get to the nerve-racking part of quickly placing items into bins and taking off your shoes, you’ll need to be identified. Have your passport and airline ticket on hand before approaching the initial security check-in desk. Fumbling through bags for these items will only fluster you and annoy those waiting behind you.
Be Bin Aware
Know what goes in the bin and have those items in easy-to-grab places Your shoes will need to be binned, so it might be a good idea to wear shoes that are easy for you to take off and put on. If you have any large electronics such as a laptop or large hair-dryer you’ll need to place them in a bin to be screened separately from your bag. Any jewelry, belts or other items that may alarm metal detectors should be placed into bins as well. And don’t forget about your medications! If you have important medications that need to be declared because they are gels or liquids, be sure to place them in a bin.