Checklist for Getting Through TSA Screening

Published on: July 13, 2012 | Last Updated on October 10, 2019
Actual sign at Los Cabos Airport

An actual sign at Los Cabos International Airport in Mexico

Even if you have some type of priority status, all flyers need to anticipate a thorough screening and prepare accordingly. Of course, this checklist for getting through TSA screening is subject to change—since policies and procedures are fluid (pardon the pun).

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  • Have your boarding pass and an acceptable form of picture identification handy at each checkpoint. To save time and worry, always return them to the same place whether it’s a particular pocket, a place in your purse, or in a neck holder.
  • Wear shoes that slip on and off easily.
  • Pack liquids or gels in your checked baggage, when possible. If you need to carry them on, remember the 3-1-1 rule (no more than 3.4 ounces per bottle, 1 clear, quart-size zip-top bag; 1 such bag per passenger).
  • If possible, avoid carrying on jackets, coats, or extra bags. Multi-pocketed vests allow a traveler to take off the garment and place it in a plastic bin on the conveyor belt without emptying the pockets.
  • Remove mobile phones, coins, and keys from your pockets. Don’t wear, heavy jewelry, belt buckles, hair clips, or any other metal that might set off the walk-through metal detector.
  • Remove laptops from bags or use “checkpoint-friendly” laptop cases that have been approved by the TSA.
  • Wrapped gifts, while permitted, may be opened at the screener’s discretion. Therefore, it’s prudent to leave them unwrapped or to pack them in checked luggage.
  • Count the number of items you placed on the conveyor belt and make sure you reclaim the same number.

See previous articles on More Time To Travel to see whether you qualify for any of the special TSA programs designed to expedite screening:

  • Reply
    July 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    the trickiest part for me is counting the number of items I place on the belt. But I make sure to do this, since I’ve left things behind more than once. Thanks for the comprehensive and helpful list!

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