What Not to Wear: How to Speed Through Airport Security
What Not to Wear
The TSA may not have a stylebook, but by following the list below, you should breeze through airport security in no time.
Tough to Remove Shoes: Forgo wearing any shoes that take a long time to unbuckle or unlace. Those work boots may be practical and those strappy sandals may look perfect with your outfit, but you'll only get annoyed looks when you slow down the security line, fumbling to get them off. Slip-on shoes make for a speedy walk through -- and don't forget to sport clean socks, lest you be forced to brave the security line barefoot.
Clothes With Metal Studs or Buttons: It may seem like a no-brainer, but it seems like there is always someone who arrives at the airport with a button-down shirt featuring metal fasteners. Unless you want everyone in line to see your undershirt (or you are looking to be singled out for additional screening) choose a different top.
Metal Jewelry: Metal rings, necklaces, bracelets, cufflinks, watches and pins can all set off the walk-through metal detector. If you can't leave home without them, just stick them in your carry-on or checked bag before reaching the conveyor belt and then re-adorn yourself later.
Belts & Belt Buckles: Metal prongs, eyelets and buckles on belts will also need to be removed -- meaning if you can't quickly take your belt off, it might be time to get some pants that actually fit.
Under-wire Bras: That little wire in some bra cups might have enough metal to set off the security buzzer. To avoid having to go through an embarrassing wand-down or pat-down on the other side of the walk-through metal detector, the TSA advises ladies to choose another style of brassiere for the day.
Loose-fitting Clothing: TSA officers don't know what you might be hiding underneath those bulky sweaters and baggy jeans. Although loose-fitting clothes are allowed, you may be picked out for additional screening.
Gel Shoe Inserts: Gel shoe inserts are not permitted, so save yourself the hassle and put your inserts in your checked baggage -- that's right, inserts are not even allowed in your carry-on. Shoes constructed with gel heels are allowed but like all other shoes, must be removed and screened.
Coats and Jackets: All coats and jackets have to go through the X-ray machine, so be prepared to remove your layers. To save time, take off your jacket while waiting for your boarding pass at the ticket counter or as you are walking to the security checkpoint. This way, you won't be rubbing elbows with anyone in line as you take off your coat.
Slacks Instead of Skirts: The TSA does not mandate all travelers wear slacks instead of skirts, but most people prefer to travel this way. Loose fitting or long skirts might make you a target for extra screening, and new pat-down rules allow screeners to check under your skirts.
Before You Go
In order to get through security as painlessly as possible, there are some preemptive measures you can take before even arriving at the airport.
Empty Your Pockets: Keys, phones, loose change, and any other mystery items you have in your pockets will have to be removed in order to pass through security. Be prepared and stow as much as you can in your purse or carry-on luggage before even departing for the airport.
Save The Bling for Later: Take off any jewelry that might set off a metal detector before getting to the airport and put it in a bag in your carry-on luggage. Once you pass through security, you can put the jewelry back on and leave it there. The same goes for hair barrettes.
Smokers Beware: According to the TSA, only lighters without fuel are permitted in checked baggage unless you place them in a "DOT-approved case." This applies for both carry-on and checked baggage, so just to be safe leave your lighters at home.
Things to Remember
In case you need a refresher, here are some other pieces of advice to make your airport experience run smoothly.
Carry-on Allowance: Carry-on allowance varies based on what airline you are flying with, but as a general rule you are allowed one bag plus one personal item. Please check the airline's individual guidelines before departing for the airport.
Liquids: When traveling through airport security, remember the 3-1-1 rule: only 3.4 (100 milliliter) bottles are allowed; all liquids must be placed in one quart-sized clear, zip top bag; and only one quart-sized bag is allowed per passenger. When in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage or leave them at home. According to the TSA, liquid medications, baby formula and breast milk are allowed in "reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces" and do not require a zip-top bag.
International Travelers: Depending on your destination, you may be faced with a different set of security measures when traveling through international airports. For example, some international screening processes require you to take off your shoes, while others do not. If you have a connecting flight in the U.S. before returning home, be prepared to go through security again -- checked baggage and all -- when you land stateside.
Looking for more holiday travel tips? Check out our guide to Holiday Air Travel 101.
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