What to Know Before You Go
Keep in mind the following advice to make your trip through the airport as fast and comfortable as possible.
When possible, don’t pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in checked baggage. Bringing them in your carry-on baggage is the best choice. However, you will need to remove them from your carry-on bags at the checkpoint for separate X-ray screening. Read about checkpoint friendly laptop bag procedures. Small electronics, such as smartphones, tablets and certain other mobile/portable electronic devices, can stay in your carry-on baggage.
Prepare a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag of liquids before arriving at the airport. Read about the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on baggage.
Pack all coats and jackets in checked baggage when possible. All coats and jackets must go through the X-ray machine.
Do not wrap gifts. If security officers need to inspect a package, they may have to unwrap it. Don’t wrap gifts until you reach your final destination.
Film. Pack undeveloped film in your carry-on bag. If you have film that is faster than 800-speed, tell a TSA officer who will manually inspect the film instead of placing it through the X-ray.
When in doubt, leave it out. Unsure if you can bring an item through the checkpoint? Put it in your checked baggage or leave it at home. Read about prohibited items.
Dress the Part
If you set off an alarm during screening, the TSA officers have to find out why. They will conduct additional screening to make sure that the object that set off the alarm is not a threat.
Advanced Imaging Technology: Before you enter an AIT machine for screening, we strongly recommend that you remove ALL items from your pockets, as well as certain accessories. These include your wallet, belt, bulky jewelry, money, keys and cell phone. Removing these items will reduce the chance of additional screening after you exit the machine. Read about this technology.
Body piercings: Certain metal body piercings may cause the machines to alarm, which will result in additional screening. If this happens, you may be asked to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to a pat-down search.
Head coverings: Travelers are allowed to wear head coverings and religious garments during the screening process. They may need 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 your shoes before screening. 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.
Tell a security officer if you are unable to remove your shoes because of a disability, medical condition or a prosthetic device. The security officer will give you additional screening that includes a visual and physical inspection.
Why do we screen shoes? Screening shoes by X-ray identifies anomalies, including explosives.
Have the Following Ready
You should present the following documents to a TSA officer at the checkpoint:
- Boarding pass
- Acceptable Identification
If you don’t have identification (lost, stolen, etc.), you will need to give the security officer information that will help verify your identity. Please allow additional time since this slows down the screening process and will result in additional screening. (Children do not have to show identification).
Hassle-Free Security Tips
- Arrive on time. Ask your airline what time you should arrive for your flight – arrival time recommendations vary by airline and day of travel. Remember to leave enough time to check your bags and go through security.
- Wear slip-on shoes. This way you can remove and replace your shoes quickly without sitting down.
- Pets. Please remove your pet from its carrying case. Send the case through the X-ray machine. Hold your pet in your arms and carry it 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 carry-on bags. If possible, collapse the stroller before you reach the metal detector. Read about traveling with children.
- Think before you speak. Belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes and threats is not tolerated. This kind of behavior will delay you and may cause you to miss your flight. If necessary, TSA officers may call local law enforcement.
TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as it does not interfere with or slow down the screening process. We do ask you to not film or take pictures of the monitors. Also, while TSA does not prohibit photographs at screening locations, local laws, state statutes and local ordinances may do so.
Taking photographs may prompt airport police or a TSA official to ask what your purpose is. We recommend that you contact the TSA Contact Center to determine the policies of specific airports. If you are a member of the press, please contact the TSA Office of Public Affairs.