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Five Airport Check In Tips Everyone Should Know!

Updated on June 1, 2017
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John has a Ph.D. in psychology and teaches college courses in human behavior. He writes about air and space, human behavior, and mysticism.

Inflight | Source

Airport Security

The experience of going through airport security can be an exercise in sheer madness.

If you fly with any frequency, you know exactly what I mean!

I’m talking about stepping into a TSA security line and immediately knowing deep inside that you are going to be delayed big time because the people in front of you are a complete and total mess!

Let me give you some examples:

  • The guy wearing cowboy boots and a silver plated belt buckle
  • The woman wearing three gold chains around her neck and 2 silver rings
  • The old man who has a pocket full of change in her pants
  • The little kid who stuffed his iPhone in his back pocket
  • The young girl with a pierced nostril that stuck her laptop in her suitcase

All of the folks I have mentioned here are people who are likely going to hold up the security line because they haven’t the foggiest idea about the airport check in process.

Part of this is understandable because not everyone takes to the sky on a regular basis. With that shared, there still seems to be a large swath of travelers who don’t seem to know what the heck is required in order to successfully and quickly get through security.

What follows are Five Airport check in tips that I would like to impart that you can share with friends, family or other loved ones who may be new to the airport check in process or are simply too narcissistic to recognize they are not the only persons traveling that day. I’ve thrown in some bonus tips just for fun.

Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

Easy On and Off Shoes
Easy On and Off Shoes | Source

1. Easy on and Off Shoes

By now, everyone should know that at most airport locations in the United States, you have to remove your shoes before stepping through the Body Scan Machines. This means that if you decide you want to wear a pair of laced up high-tops to the airport, you are likely going to delay everyone behind you while you struggle to untie your Nike’s. Same holds true if you stepped into a pair of big-ass cowboy boots.

Here are some tips for the day you head to the airport:

  • Wear shoes that are easy to get on and get off. This means putting on a pair of sneakers or walking shoes.
  • Skip high-heels or other types of shoes that require you to adjust a buckle or somehow tighten.
  • Be read to take your shoes as soon as you near the x-ray machine belt. If you see other people taking their shoes off, it is a good indication you should too!
  • Please wear clean socks – we don’t want to look at your nasty bear feet or smell them!

Remove Jewelry
Remove Jewelry | Source

2. Take off jewelry

This point is fairly straight forward but is being mentioned because people seem to still forget that it is not OK to wear jewelry or other forms of metal while passing through security.

Here are some basic suggestions to help you and the people you are in line with have an easier time.

  • Minimize the amount of jewelry you wear to the airport.
  • If must wear something, like a watch or a life-alert pendant, find a seating area just prior to the TSA line and remove all of it before stepping one foot into the security line.
  • Stick all removed jewelry into a backpack or other carry-on that will be scanned by the X-Ray machine.
  • If you have body piercings, please remove the metal from your body. This means body piercing you may have around private parts as well!

Have Boarding Pass and ID in Hand
Have Boarding Pass and ID in Hand | Source

3. Have boarding pass and ID in hand

Yet another no brainer but it is something worth highlighting because so many people seem to forget this one. Here, I am talking about the people in the security line who are forever fishing around their carry-on items, purses and backpacks in search of their boarding pass and ID.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Have your ID out before you get into the security line and in your hand.
  • Have your printed boarding pass out and place it in the same hand as your ID.
  • Have everything else put away in your luggage – including your cellphone!
  • Skip the electronic boarding passes - they may save trees but are major time-wasters at the airport (TSA doesn't like them because they can't write on them with various authorizations).

Empty your pockets
Empty your pockets | Source

4. Empty your pockets

One of the biggest time wasters that happen in the airport security line can be traced to individuals who have everything but the kitchen sink shoved into their pockets. One of the first things TSA Officers will say (if you are listening) is to remove all items from your pockets. What does this mean? It means all items!

Basic things to do:

  • Remove spare change and stick it in a bag.
  • Remove your cellphone and put it in a backpack
  • Remove gum, candy or other food items
  • Anything else that in any way occupies space in your pocket

Use a Laptop Case
Use a Laptop Case | Source

5. Use a Laptop Case

Laptops and even tablets seem to hang people up when they are in the TSA security line. At most airports in the United States, you are required to remove your laptop and take it out of the bag so that it can be scanned by the x-ray machine.

Here are a few helpful points under this area:

  • Don’t pack your laptop in your suite case. Spend $15.00 (or less) and buy a laptop case. If stick the laptop in your luggage, you are going to make the rest of us wait while you unzip your luggage and riffle threw your underwear in order to retrieve it.
  • Make sure all the cable, wires, thumb-drives and other devices that attach to your laptop are disconnected and packed away.
  • Many airports do not require tablets to be removed from luggage for scanning but some still do. Rather than waiting to find out if your airport has this requirement, assume that it does and be ready to have your tablet scanned when you arrive at the airport.

Which is most annoying during airport screening?

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Airport Security Line
Airport Security Line | Source

Bonus Tips!

  • You should be following the 3-1-1 rule outlined by TSA for liquids however the best way to avoid problems in the security line is to not bring any liquids with you as carry-ons! Pack your toothpaste, cologne, perfume and other toiletries in a checked bag. It will save you a lot more time and you will not be restricted to the current 3.4 ounce rule. And yes - spend the extra money for a checked bag. (It is OK to bring life saving medicines in your carry-on).
  • Remove your hat before stepping into the security line. You are not allowed to wear it per TSA rules.
  • Remove your pet from their respective container before stepping up to the security line. If possible, hold your pet in your arms and when instructed, walk through the body-scanner. Be ready to remove your pet’s collar if asked/required.
  • Watch what you say. DO NOT make jokes about anything that can be construed as violent towards others. Too many people who thought they were saying something funny ended up creating a “security event" and as a result, ended up delaying everyone for hours.
  • You are not allowed to wear jackets and coats when you pass through the security line. If you must wear one to the airport because it is cold outside, consider putting on something that can easily be taken off and shoved into a backpack or piece of luggage before you get into the TSA line. Windbreakers are a great option.
  • Get to the airport early and with plenty of time to spare. Remember Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong usually does. Plus, if you arrive all frantic and nervous, you may give TSA something to suspect, which is going to cause you and others to become delayed.
  • Once you pass through the body scanner, head over to the security belt and grab your belongings ... then move yourself and your belongings away from the line. Do not get dressed or pack your stuff away while others are behind you (that is SO rude)!


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