TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: Packing Smart to Get Through Security Screening a Little Faster

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Officers searching a bag.

Tips for Non TSA Pre✓® Lanes: One of the biggest causes for delays in the checkpoint lanes are bag checks. When a bag must be searched, the X-ray belt must stop until an officer can retrieve the bag for a secondary search. When the belt stops, the line stops. The starting and stopping resulting from the bag searches is similar to the accordion effect in a traffic jam. What can be done about it? Well, here are some tips to avoid the most common causes for bag searches:

  1. Large electronic items, dense metallic or crystal items, homemade gizmos, or anything that might look odd should be removed from bags to be run separately through the X-ray. That way, our officers can get a better look at the items on the X-ray. When in doubt, leave it out.
  2. Double check the TSA Prohibited Items List or use the Can I Bring My… tool to ensure there aren’t any prohibited items in your carry-on bag.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the 3-1-1 liquid policy and be sure to remove the 3-1-1 baggie from carry-on bags prior to sending them through the X-ray.
  4. Guns, replica guns, ordnance, and inert ordnance will bring the lane and checkpoint to a complete halt and can lead to missed flights, delays, and even cancelations.
  5. Remove laptops from carry-ons and run them separately. Unless of course you have a “Checkpoint Friendly” laptop bag. Smaller laptops, netbooks, and tablets can stay in your bag. Read this blog post for more information on what can stay in and what has to come out.
  6. Pack clothes on the bottom and electronics and any other items that could trigger a search on top or in separate pockets. I know this isn’t always possible, but this way, if we do need to search your bag, we won’t have to dig for the item.
  7. Lastly, our officers will have an easier time inspecting bags via the X-ray if items are organized and neatly packed. A cluttered bag with items strewn about can make it hard to clear anomalies and result in a bag search.
Example of organized bag and cluttered bag.

Tips for TSA Pre✓® Lanes: When traveling through TSA Pre✓® lanes, your laptop and 3-1-1 baggie can remain in your carry-on. Ironically, removing them from your bag can slow the screening process. Learn more about how TSA Pre✓® works and how to enroll here: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck

TSA Pre check

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Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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