The airport security line is fraught with all kinds of potentially uncomfortable situations. This is true no matter if you’re a frequent flyer or a first-timer who isn’t as familiar with safety rules and regulations.
Avoid these six mistakes to prevent TSA line embarrassment.
Avoid Metallic Accents on Clothing
If you happen to enjoy embellished clothing, make sure you pay special attention to this tip. Metallic accents on your clothing could get you flagged for a pat-down in the TSA line. It’s an easy thing to overlook, as some items come with small metallic accents attached that you just get used to and often forget about.
As I walked through the body scanner at the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota (MSP) airport recently, I failed to realize my cardigan had both metallic buttons and a rather pointless metal tag with the brand name attached to the side seam. The tag is what caught the attention of the TSA agent, who had to pat down my midsection because of it.
Avoid Decorative Zippers
Closely related to metallic buttons and random metal tags are decorative zippers. Clothing often features trendy details such as a functional zipper at the neckline. While these items are fun to wear if they are your style, they are not so fun when in an airport. They are not forbidden by any means, but they can trip you up in the security line.
Layers are a smart choice for plane rides, but you’ll want to choose your layering pieces carefully. If you wear a jacket as part of your outfit for instance, be aware that you may be asked to remove it as you go through the security line. Make sure you have a shirt on underneath your jacket that is acceptable to wear in public in case that should happen.
Choose Your Footwear Wisely
You likely already know that you have to remove your footwear at airport security (unless you’re a PreCheck member). This can cause some major delays in the TSA line, and it gets really uncomfortable to be the one holding up the line while dozens of other travelers impatiently wait for you to take your shoes off or put them back on. It makes sense to wear a slip-on shoe to avoid this particular situation. However, be sure that you wear a slip-on shoe that works well with socks of some sort.
If you go without socks, I can assure you that you’ll be standing barefoot in the security lines as you wait your turn to step through the body scanner. I once wore flip-flops hoping to avoid holding up the TSA lines. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that idea all the way through. I didn’t hold up the line, but I did wind up having to stand barefoot for a good 10 minutes or more. Needless to say, it was a rather gross experience. If you don’t have slip-on shoes that work well with socks, use your next flight as a great excuse to go buy some new shoes.
Accessories can make an outfit, and many people like looking and feeling stylish during their travels. Hats are a fun accessory and can hide hair that hasn’t been styled, but you’ll need to remove them for security. Similarly, if you wear sunglasses make sure to stow them in your carry-on item while at the airport instead of placing them on your head or hooking them on your shirt. You’ll likely forget them there, and the TSA agents don’t exactly relish having to remind you to remove your sunglasses.
Corral All Liquids
In addition to you yourself getting scanned, any items you carry on to the plane must also be run through a scanner. Most airports require that you remove any liquid items from your purse or carry-on bag and place them in a bin so they are visible. Make this easy on yourself by corralling all of your liquid items (think hand sanitizers, lip gloss, moist wipes) into a clear plastic bag within your purse or carry-on item. You can then simply take out that plastic bag of liquids without having to rummage around the depths of your bag to find every last item.