Dealing with Airport Security

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Firstly, a little politeness and respect goes a long way. Airport security staff have a pretty thankless task and it doesn't cost much for you to be polite to them and help them do their job.

It's hard to formulate more detailed advice for dealing with security since every airport seems to have its own local policy. Some airports want your laptop out, some don't. The Transportation Security Administration in the US seem to want to scan your shoes every time whilst, in Europe, it's usually only done if a pat-down search is required.

Re: taking off shoes: most airports in the US have recently (since approx. September 2005) loosened their shoe restrictions. Wear sandals with no metal (if it's warm) or shoes with no metal and thin soles and most TSA employees will let you walk through the metal detector with your shoes on. Heydanno 12:04, 17 Oct 2005 (EDT)

Also, take everything out of your pockets when you first get in line and stash it in a carry-on bag. No more fumbling with change, cell phone, keys, etc at the metal detector.

One thing that seems to be fairly general is that you need to remove your outer jacket. Be nice to the people behind you, and do this before you get to the conveyor belt. If you're wearing a hat, it's best to put it in the x-ray tray since they'll probably ask to see under it anyway.

Most security regimes won't allow you to take open drink containers (e.g. Starbucks cups, Nalgene bottles) through the metal detector.

While TSA restrictions on many grooming tools has been relaxed (as of this writing, for instance, rounded tip scissors are OK), it is a good idea to put them in an easily accessible pocket in your luggage so you can send them through the conveyor belt with your wallet, watch, change, etc. The personnel can't always tell if the scissors are rounded tip on the X-Ray machine and will often cause them to need to go through your bag anyway. Every time I've sent this stuff through in the bin (as opposed to my luggage) I have been thanked by the TSA personnel. --grahams 15:37, 18 Oct 2005 (EDT)

It may seem like an obvious hint, but avoid studded belts and items of clothing with lots of metal. I've lost track of the number of times I've seen someone in the queue almost have to get undressed before being able to get through the metal detector without it beeping.

  • You can pick up velcro belts from sports shops designed for water activities or military clothing places, with plastic instead of metal in the design so they don't rust... the added benefit of course is they don't set off the metal detectors and you don't have to struggle with the Keep Your Trousers up walk. -Noise


If you are on medication, carry your prescription with you - both for showing to customs, and if you run-out/lose your tablets.

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