By now most flyers know to have their laptops and mobile phones ready to drop in the bins, along with what can and cannot be packed in a carry on as they speed through security. But if the goal is to try and reach your gate as quickly and as painlessly as possible, don’t forget to consider the clothes you choose to wear for the airport.
It helps to think of clearing airport security an Olympic sport. The faster you can throw everything in the plastic security bin, the better your score. Aside from selecting items that can easily slip off and on, you can also hurry things along by staying clear of attire that might invite suspicion from the TSA.
As you put together your look for the airport, do yourself and your fellow travelers a huge favor by avoiding these items.
Please Don’t Wear Fussy Shoes
Oh sure, everyone wants to look cute when they finally arrive to wherever it is they’re going, but now isn’t the time for overly complicated boots, gladiator sandals, or anything else that requires a lot of lacing, fastening, or tugging. Pack them away to wear later in the trip. Otherwise, expect major eye daggers from the mob of anxious and potentially late travelers at your back.
An easy pair of slip on loafers, flats, or sneakers is the practical way to go here.
Resist the Temptation of Sandals, Unless...
No matter where you fall on the contentious socks with sandals debate, know that, if you do choose to wear a pair of sandals to the airport, you will have to place them in a bin as you would any other shoe. If you’re sans socks, that means bare feet on the airport floor, which hopefully strikes you as gross and a bad idea all around. Socks-with-sandals folks, you would have nothing to worry about in this scenario aside from the unjust ridicule of fashion puritans.
Related: Stylish or Comfy: 16 Perfect Garments to Wear on Your Next Flight
Can You Wear Piercings Through Airport Security?
Almost anything metal is going to get flagged when walking through the scanner and will result in additional screening. Often that just means the agent scans the area with a wand or performs an extra pat-down. In other situations, that may mean you are asked to remove the piercing in private for inspection. Depending on your piercings, you may find it to be less of a hassle to temporarily remove them if possible.
Wearing Clunky Jewelry and Bobby Pins
Again, everyone wants to look their snazziest but an airport just isn’t the place for an armful of bangles and jangles. While most small rings, earrings, and necklaces should be fine, you definitely want to avoid wearing oversized jewelry. This will certainly draw attention in the scanner and lead to additional screening, costing you precious time. By all means, bring all the statement necklaces you want. Just remember to pack them in your bag, at least until you’ve cleared security. And if your hair style calls for bobby pins to keep it in place, ditch the metal ones for wooden or plastic versions that won't cause problems during screening.
Airport Security 101: The Belts Come Off
Don’t wear one. A belt is just one more thing you’ll have to unfasten on your way through security only to put right back on again 2 minutes later while simultaneously grabbing for your laptop and shoes. If your outfit does indeed include a belt, store it in your carry on until you reach your destination, or, better still, rethink that outfit.
Can I Wear a Hat Through Airport Security?
Miss Manners may not approve of hats indoors but the TSA doesn’t mind so long as you walk through the scanner without one. Still, this is one more thing to keep up with during screening, so try to get by without one if possible. Please note, this does not apply to religious head coverings of any sort, though you still may be required to undergo a secondary screening.
Related: How to Pack for an Extended Trip in Just a Carry-On Bag
Excessively Puffy Jackets, Coats, and Outerwear
Whatever the temperature may be inside the airport, all outerwear must be removed and placed into a bin before passing through the scanner. These take up quite a bit of room, so if you have a slimmer coat that's just as warm, bring that instead. In case you’re unclear, outwear includes hoodies, cardigans, vests, and similar items. Some agents may even request loose sweaters and sweatshirts be placed into a bin.
Clothing Perceived as Inappropriate
As eye rolly as it may seem, t-shirts or other garments with slogans or images that could be perceived as promoting violence and/or threatening language could get you into all sorts of trouble at the airport. While it’s typically the flight crew that boots passengers over clothing concerns, the TSA could also select you for secondary screening.
Play it safe and avoid wearing anything with images of guns, weaponry, or something that may read as aggressively confrontational to others. That includes belt buckles, purses, heels, and jewelry made to look like guns or knives, even tiny ones. Even if your brass knuckles are rose gold and clearly decorative, don’t wear them.
The Trouble with Loose Fitting Clothing
Having to suffer through an hours-long flight in tight clothing sounds like a nightmare, but then again, so is being held back for questioning by the TSA. And that is what could happen if your loose and comfy clothing seems suspicious to agents. Garments that appear bulky and overly loose may be subject to additional screening. If possible, try and find the sweet spot somewhere between comfortably boxy and form-fitting.