TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport share their insider tips ahead of Labor Day Weekend

Monday, August 28, 2023
A TSA officer screens some infant formula that was packed in a traveler’s carry-on bag at Philadelphia International Airport. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Labor Day Weekend is around the corner and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Philadelphia International Airport who typically share their favorite travel tips with family and friends have compiled a short list of these tips that they also want to share with the public ahead of the holiday travel period.

 “Our officers work with passengers every day and that has given them an insider’s view of what travelers can do to ensure a smooth security screening process,” says Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Our officers are eager to share their observations with the public to help passengers transit through the checkpoint efficiently.”

“Additionally, TSA officers are so keenly attuned to security operations and the everyday ebb and flow at a security checkpoint that they have identified a few things that they never do when they are passengers,” Spero said.

Six tips that TSA officers share with family and close friends

  1. When purchasing a ticket online, enter your full name as it appears on your ID. Do not enter your nick-name, even if it’s what your besties use. The name on your boarding pass should match the name on your ID.
  2. Enroll in TSA PreCheck®. It is hands-down the best way to travel through a security checkpoint because you can leave on your shoes, belt and light outerwear jacket. It’s typically the lane with travelers who are most familiar with the screening process and so the lane moves quickly.
  3. Download the free myTSA app. The app has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that will let you know where to pack an item. It will let you know the estimated wait time at a checkpoint. It lets you know if there are flight delays at your airport; and it will let you know if the TSA PreCheck lane is open.
  4. Wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. Shoes or that lace up your calf will slow you down. Slip-on shoes are best. And do yourself a favor, wear socks!
  5. If you find yourself in a checkpoint line, use that time wisely. Remove all items from your pockets and place them into your carry-on bag. Empty your pockets completely. That means everything, even non-metallic items from tissues to breath mints. This helps avoid pat-downs. We know that travelers don’t like to receive pat-downs. TSA officers aren’t too keen on needing to conduct pat-downs either.
  6. Place your mobile phone inside your carry-on bag at the checkpoint. Don’t put it in a bin where other people have placed their shoes. You don’t want to put your phone in a bin and then hold it up to your face. Yuck.
Travelers should place items from their pockets directly into their carry-on bags. (TSA photo)
Travelers should place items from their pockets directly into their carry-on bags. (TSA photo)

Six things TSA officers never do when they are flying

  1. Do not joke about having an explosive device or claim that you’ve got a bomb with you. The next thing you know, you’ll be having a very serious conversation with a local police officer and you may not make your flight.
  2. Never put your pet or child through the checkpoint X-ray unit. (Yes, it happens.) No need to expose them to X-rays.
  3. Never bring your firearm to a security checkpoint. If you want to travel with your gun, the proper way to pack it is unloaded inside a locked hard-sided case and declared at your airline counter for the gun case to be transported in the belly of the aircraft.
  4. Never use your mouth as an extra hand. Your ID is handled by others and goes into a credential reader along with thousands of other IDs. Then you put it into your mouth while you fidget with your phone? Gross.
  5. Never place small items directly onto the X-ray belt. Phones, keys, boarding passes and anything else that is small will likely fall between the conveyor belt’s rollers and can be difficult (or impossible) to retrieve. Instead, place these smaller items into a bowl, bin, or better yet—into your carry-on bag.
  6. Never bring a bottle of water to a security checkpoint, however you can bring an empty water bottle or reusable insulated container with you and then fill it up on the secure side of the checkpoint. It’s a great way to refill it with fresh water, help the environment and save a few bucks by not having to purchase it in the airport.
A TSA officer reminds travelers not to bring their beverages into the security checkpoint. (TSA photo)
A TSA officer reminds travelers not to bring their beverages into the security checkpoint. (TSA photo)

In addition, TSA officials always remind travelers that if they See Something, Say Something® to a TSA officer or any airport official.