What Not to Wear: How to Speed Through Airport Security

by Libby Zay 
Posted Nov 23rd 2010 02:47 PMUpdated Nov 24th 2010 03:00 PM


With 24 million people expected to clog the airports during the Thanksgiving holiday period and the chance a protest banning body scanners will take off, travelers are looking for time saving tips when it comes to airport security. Now more than ever is the time to ask yourself "what should I wear?" Follow the easy wardrobe tips below to ensure you have a hassle free trip over the holidays.

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.

Filed Under: Tips & Tricks, Holidays

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Sonny Boy01

I suggest that everyone with loose change have a coin purse or 1 of those oval shaped rubber coin holder's.Makes thing's a lot faster gettin' through TSA lines. When you have to put it in the the bowl provided for loose change & other said removable item's.

August 23 2011 at 6:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what about metal dental retainers?,,,,should people have to leave them at home too and go traveling without it?
do we look like terrorist too?
they go beyong razonable limits in name of security,,we all know where the terrorist have their haven,,,,

May 02 2011 at 5:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Feeling exhausted after an intrusive full body scanner or a violating pat-down procedure come enjoy a good night sleep in the Gatwick airport hotels

February 02 2011 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

there is no true safety in the screening process, the ridiculous belief that only blowing up planes is the end goal for terrorists just amuses me. The bigger scare would be blowing up the treminal or the parking garage. All this is just a feel good moment. if a terrorist wants to do damage, it is not that hard to do and doing it in a secured and monitored area seems like a waste of energy and increases the likelyhood of failure from the terrorists point of view.
This is more about control, fear, breaking the American spirit and showing the world we have been changed and the terrorists know it.

December 09 2010 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Since the very people that attacked us dress is birkas, we can't tell if they are men or women, and they are exempt from this BS...why don't we all just wear BIRKAS. Problem solved,right? My ticket waS bought for me, 3 days later the new RULES were imposed...This will be my last flight for sure, until they whoever the F they are, get real!!

November 25 2010 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Heidi Lao

It is 6:25 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2010. I posted the comment in the morning about 9:30 a.m., but I did not see the confirming email in my mail box in the morning or through out the day until a while ago.

I just found out the first sentence--Everybody should protect the full body scanner.--had been changed. I wanted to say was to protest not to protect the full body scanner.

I guess this is one of the reason that the confirming email did not show up. They want others to misunderstand my point of view on the full body scanner.

And another reason the PHT animals delay my confirming email is to make the email old, so when it is on the front page, people do not see it. I wonder whether the comments would show up in the front if I confirmed it late.

One control the PHT animals could do to people with the directed energy weapons is to make you type very slow or make a lot of mistake to slow down your typing to waste your time. Or they could do the opposite--making you have unbelievable fast typing speed.

The PHT animals are also very violent with my computer and everyone's computer. They could control your computer and send their typing on your screen instead of your own. They could even send their own version (changed your articles) to your computer or to your printer when you are printing your articles. They control people's computers with or without you being aware of it. When they let you know, they add the mental manipulations to you by making clicking noises on your computers or many other ways to make you being aware of your computer is controlled.

I don't have time to reread my whole comment. The PHT animals have been doing every thing to waste my time already including make my printer to jam or to going into a checking mode that it would not print.

Just to clarify, I don't think anyone should use the full body scanner. People should as for a pad down. For women, ask for a female security guard to pat you down.

November 24 2010 at 9:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eli Martinez

I just got home and my wife told me that a couple somewhere in the US at an airport wore a winter coat, removed them and had nothing on but bikinies. What happened ?

November 24 2010 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If they would protect the border just half as much as at the airports, we would be able too stop all the illegals and drug traffickers.

November 24 2010 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Times have changed, in my day I used to take them out to dinner before I groped them. Now all you get is a snack cookie. Perhaps the TSA could hire Priests to do the pat downs. I'm sure my kids would feel safer .

November 24 2010 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think some people feel that the TSA WANTS to "grope" you. I don't think there is anything sexual going on there. They are doing their job as defined by their job description. If you somehow feel you are getting "groped", its my opinion that you are one that would be the first to claim a sexual harrasment lawsuit at your workplace because someone said you were attractive. Get over it!

November 24 2010 at 2:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply