Navigating airport security has to be one of the most tedious parts of air travel.
Unfortunately, airport security is a must for everyone who wants to board a plane but a little advance preparation can make all the difference.
Here are our top tips for getting through airport security in the quickest time possible.
1. Tick tock goes the clock
It’s a no-brainer but allowing sufficient time to clear airport security will make all the difference. There is a process involved and the one thing you can bank on is that there will be a queue. If you’re lucky, it wont be a long line-up but if you are travelling at peak times, you should allow for delays. When you arrive at airport security, unless you are lucky enough to go through the priority lane, pick the shortest line but also take note of the travellers ahead of you to assess how quickly the line will move. Do your fellow travellers have lots of hand luggage? A gaggle of kids in tow? Like supermarket check-out lines, it can be a calculated gamble to pick the queue that will move the fastest.
Sneaky hint: Check out the App store for an app that predicts wait times at major airports. It’s not foolproof but it might give you an idea of what awaits you when you reach the airport.
2. Security Protocols and Respect
If you’ve ever navigated airport security, you know how it works – but you can’t be sure that it will be the same in every airport. Some airport security processes require that you hand over your passport and boarding pass while going through security, others don’t. Some require that you place all electronic items in a tray to go through the X ray machine, others don’t. The best bet here is to listen to the directions given to you by airport security staff.
Sneaky hint: If you follow instructions, you make their job easier. Be nice, have your passport ready and your passage through security will probably be quicker. Win-win!
It’s always the belt! If it’s not the belt, it will definitely be the shoes.
It’s a little annoying to get partially undressed at airport security checkpoints but, remember – safety first for everyone. We’ve all set off the metal detector at some point and it is frustrating to be sent back to remove certain items and try again.
Many shoes (particularly high heels) have metal plates built into or attached to the soles. These often set off the alarms. Belt buckles also tend to annoy the detectors. It’s easy to forget the coins in your pocket too – give yourself a pat down before going through airport security to make sure your pockets are empty and although it is annoying, if you think your shoes or belt may set off the alarm, take them off as a precaution. That way, you will more than likely avoid the need to be re-screened.
If possible, try not to wear bulky clothing or jackets. You will be asked to put these items through the X ray machine and this just adds to the drama.
Sneaky hint: This one’s for the ladies. Sometimes, the airport security process leads to a full body frisk search. Weigh up the benefits of wearing trousers rather than a skirt or dress. If you are confronted with a public pat down/frisk search, trousers might be a better option. If you are wearing a skirt or dress and the idea of a pat down search being done in public makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, you can request this be done in a private room.
LAGs is air-travel slang for “liquids, aerosols and gels”. They can be a pain at airport security checkpoints.
If you are taking liquids, aerosols or gels in your carry-on luggage, make sure each one is no more than 100ml. If a container is more than 100ml, it will be confiscated. Seeing a beautiful (and expensive) bottle of perfume confiscated at airport security is a crying shame!
Make sure too if you are carrying aerosols, that the lid is attached. If there is no lid, it will be confiscated.
LAGs need to be carried in a clear plastic bag. It’s best to organise this before you head to the airport, but if you forget you will be able to get one before going through airport security.
Sneaky hint: If you are taking a bag of LAGs with you onboard, it’s a good idea to make sure the bag is easily accessible – maybe the outside pocket of your cabin bag or the very top of your hand bag. This makes it easier to locate and place it in a tray to go through the X ray machine.
Going through airport security means you will most likely put your mobile phone and maybe your tablet or laptop in a tray to go through the X ray machine. The contents of your pockets will also need to be disgorged to go through the X ray machine and this may include money. Sometimes, airport security staff will ask you to remove your watch. Each of these items is valuable and can easily be pocketed by thieves.
Be extra vigilant to keep an eye on your belongings as they go through the X ray machine. This can be tricky if you set off the alarm and need to go back into the queue to be rescreened. Also, before leaving the airport screening area, take stock of your belongings to make sure you haven’t left anything behind.
Sneaky hint: If you have a travelling companion, stage your transit through security so that one of you is at the start of the X ray / screening process while the other is being screened. This way, one of you can keep an eye on your belongings before they go through the X ray machine and the other can watch them come out while the second person is being screened.
Airport security isn’t fun, but it is a necessary process to ensure safety of all passengers and crew. Some advance preparation and a good attitude will take the stress down a notch or two and you’ll soon be on your way.