Are you ready?
Are you prepared to go through security at airport? When you’re packing, think about security at the airport as well as what you need for your trip.
First off: Do you plan to carry on anything or will you check all your luggage? If you have to check any luggage (which is most people) you should only carry what you need or value highly in your carry-on stuff. This is less than it used to be. Two bags is the limit these days. That includes purses, too! There are size restrictions as well. Make sure your carry-on stuff will fit under your seat or easily overhead. If you get on near the end, don’t expect a lot of space to be left in the overhead compartment.
So, your carry on has some restrictions. You are dealing with the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) and the tighter security that resulted from various attempts to cause trouble. We won’t go into those events here, just the rules.
Non-flammable liquid containers that have less than 3.4 oz or 100 ml are allowed.
Put them all in one quart/liter-sized, clear plastic zip-lock bag.
This includes all of your carry-on liquids, gels and creams. Put them all in the one plastic bag.
Your checked luggage can have larger amounts of non-flammable liquids but I advise you to put those in plastic bags as well to avoid spills and other problems. You are not limited to the 3.4 ounces (100 ml) rule on those.
Pack your carry-on bag in an orderly way. Don’t just toss it all into a backpack. You will avoid trouble at the x-ray station. You don’t want a delay to start your trip. You will have enough to worry about as you pass through the enhanced screening procedures. Put any metal objects in the carry-on bag as well.
Also, your laptop computer and other electronic devices go in the carry-on bag. You may have to start up the item to show it is what it is supposed to be. You might get out of this if you have one of the newly approved laptop bags that allows the computer to be screened without removing it.
The other devices are iPods, cameras, curling irons, and shavers. They can usually remain in your carry-on during screening. Don’t worry about the film in an old style camera, it will be just fine unless it is faster than 800-speed. (You’ll have to ask for an officer to hand inspect fast film to avoid x-rays.)
If you’re carrying gifts, don’t wrap them. This will avoid wrapping them twice if you get a special screening check.
What are you wearing? Anything with metal is apt to set off the alarm. Pack it in your carry-on bag. Body piercing? You may want to remove those for the flight. Think about hair barrettes and clothing with big metal buttons. The metal detectors can be sensitive. You will get through security with these items eventually, but why risk a delay? You want to have the least amount of stuff to put loose in those plastic trays. If your airport doesn’t have the new machines, you may have to remove shoes, belts, coins, etc.
Have your boarding pass and identification ready. Carry these items with your passport in a handy holder that hangs around your neck. You know where it is and you don’t have to think about someone picking your pocket. You can get one of these at a travel store or at just the travel department at a large department store for even less money.
Get to the airport early enough so you won’t be rushed. Find out what your airline cut-off times are for check in. You must give yourself more time for international flights than domestic ones. You never know how long it will take to get through those security checkpoints. If you are traveling at holiday times, expect longer lines than normal.