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How to Get Through the Line Faster

What to Know Before You Go

Passengers are asked to keep in mind the following advice to help make their trip through the airport as efficient and comfortable as possible.

Pack Smart

Suitcase OrganizationWhen possible, do not pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in checked baggage. However, please be advised that these items must be removed from carry-on bags and submitted separately for X-ray screening. Click here for "checkpoint friendly" laptop bag procedures. Small electronics, such as smartphones, tablets and certain other mobile/portable electronic devices, can remain in carry-on baggage.

Prepare a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag of liquids before arriving at the airport. For more information on liquid rules: 3-1-1 for carry-ons, click here.

Pack all coats and jackets in checked baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine for inspection.

Do not wrap gifts. If a security officer needs to inspect a package, they may have to unwrap the gift. Passengers should refrain from wrapping gifts until arriving at their final destination.

Film. Undeveloped film should go in carry-on bags. Passengers will be able to declare film that is faster than 800-speed to a transportation security officer for physical inspection to avoid being X-rayed.

When in doubt, leave it out. Unsure if an item is prohibited or not? Travelers should place such items in their checked baggage or leave the item at home. Click here to see the list of prohibited items.

Dress the Part

Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) have to resolve any anomaly detected at the checkpoint. If travelers alarm when passing through a metal detector or advanced imaging technology unit, additional screening will be required.

Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT): Before passing through this technology, TSA strongly recommends removing ALL items from pockets, as well as certain accessories, including wallet, belt, bulky jewelry, money, keys, and cell phone. Removing all of these items will reduce  the chance of needing additional screening after exiting the machine. The officer viewing the image cannot see the passenger, so any irregularity that appears on the screen will require inspection to determine what it is.

For more information on this technology, click here.

Body Piercings: Certain metal body piercings may cause the machines to alarm, which will result in additional screening. If additional screening is required, passengers may be asked to remove their body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.

Head Coverings: Travelers are permitted to wear head coverings and religious garments during the screening process. They may be directed to additional screening if the headwear or clothing (religious or otherwise) is loose fitting or large enough to hide prohibited items. Learn more about security considerations for religious or cultural needs.

Shoes: Please remove shoes before entering the screening technology and put them directly on the belt to go through the X-ray machine instead of in a bin with other items. It is safe, easy, and gives officers a better look.

Passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or a prosthetic device that prevents them from removing their shoes, should notify a security officer. These passengers will be given additional screening that includes a visual and physical inspection.

Why do we screen shoes? TSA instituted mandatory shoe screening as an additional security measure when the threat level for the aviation sector was raised on August 10, 2006. Screening shoes by X-ray is an effective method of identifying any type of anomalies, including explosives. Screening shoes increases security at the checkpoint.

Have the Following Ready

Passengers should present the following documents to a Transportation Security Officer at the checkpoint:

  • Boarding pass
  • Identification (click here to see a list of acceptable IDs)
     

Passengers without identification (lost, stolen, etc.), will be required to provide the document checking officer with some information to help verify their identity. Please allow additional time since this slows down the screening process and will result in additional screening. (Children are not required to show identification).

Hassle-Free Security Tips

  • Arrive on time. Arrival time recommendations vary by airline and day of travel, so check with the air carrier. Remember to leave adequate time to check baggage and move through security.

  • Wear slip-on shoes. This allows travelers to remove and replace their shoes quickly without the need to sit down.

  • Pets. Please remove all animals from their carrying cases and send the case through the X-ray machine. Hold your pet in your arms and proceed through the metal detector.

  • Children. Please take infants and children out of baby carriers and strollers and take them through the metal detector. Strollers and baby carriers go through the X-ray machine with your bags. If possible, collapse the stroller before arriving at the metal detector. For more information on traveling with children, click here.

  • Think before you speak. Belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes and threats will not be tolerated. They will result in delays and possibly missing flight departures. Local law enforcement may be called as necessary.

Photography

TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors. While the TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might.

Taking photographs may also prompt airport police or a TSA official to ask what your purpose is. It is recommended that you contact the TSA Contact Center to contact the Customer Support Manager at the airport to determine its specific policy. Or, if you are a member of the press, you should contact the TSA Office of Public Affairs.

Latest revision: 30 July 2013