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  • Writer's pictureJuliet Weller

Thirteen Things You May Have Forgotten About Airport Security

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

The words "airport security" have not been uttered by most people in many, many months. Some folks dread the thought of going through security. It has never been a source of angst for me; I consider it a part of the travel adventure. The only jaw-clenching moments are the is the once-in-a-while occurrences when an unexpected traffic hassle delays my arrival at the airport, AND the line to traverse security is a mile or two long. I might bite my lip once or twice. How do you frame the security hurdle? In case you need reminders of the rules, I have some here, with links that will help. Most seasoned travelers will find these a no-brainer, but maybe you should run through the list quickly to make sure you haven't missed anything, or that the rules haven't changed. The rules I have listed apply to passengers that do not have TSA Pre-Check.

1. Identification Have your ID and boarding pass available before you step up to the TSA agent. This is one of those no-brainers, but it's also one that if you are guilty of it will annoy the folks behind you, and spark grumbling. We don't want grumbling. The requirement to have a REAL ID-compliant identification has (again) been pushed back to October 2021. Chances are you already have one, but if you don't know what I'm talking about, I wrote about it here, and you should probably pay a visit here. 2. Coats and Jackets It’s airport screening 101: travelers must remove coats and jackets, including other garb like hooded sweatshirts, vests, and such, before going through the metal detector or full-body scanner. 3. Belts and Shoes If your pants fall down the moment you take off your belt, don't wear those pants when you fly. Flyers must remove belts before walking through metal detectors, so be prepared to remove yours if you wear one. And you don't have to ask the agent - just do it. Shoes, the same. Slip-off shoes are the best option, not sandals, and please remember to wear socks. You might think that's a matter of personal preference - I think it's a matter of personal hygiene and safety. Travelers 75+ or under 13 can leave shoes on.

4. Metal If you have metallic implants inside of you I know I don't have to tell you to inform the screener so that you can be screened separately. It's the other metal - keys, money clips, watches, jewelry items larger than a ring or those in unusual locations - that may draw attention. It's not that these items will be confiscated; they are not forbidden, but rather it's about the impatient travelers behind you that are already grumbling because of the lady that didn't have her ID ready for the agent. Place these items in a bin to be X-rayed. 5. CBD products If you’re flying within the United States, it is legal to travel with products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. If you’re traveling internationally, you may be better off leaving these products at home unless you’ve thoroughly researched your destination’s laws and know that what you’re bringing is legal. The TSA does not specifically screen for illegal drugs but will report them to law enforcement if found. The rules are here. 6. The one-quart bag You know...the one for your liquids, sprays, gels, creams and pastes...keep it right on top, or in a separate, easily reachable pocket of your carry-on so that you don't have to dig for it. Only one bag is allowed. What goes in it: containers of no more that 3.4 oz ounces of liquid, or gel, which usually means personal hygiene items. It could also be cough medicine, makeup, sunscreen or whatever. If you have containers larger than 3.4oz, put them in your checked bag. I'm sure you've seen novice travelers show up with full-sized containers, so if you are traveling with a novice, consult with them beforehand. Solid material like stick deodorant or lip balm do not need to be in this bag. Check here for details, as well as exemptions regarding things like medication, syringes and infant formula.

7. Powders As of June 2018, powdered items such as coffee, spices, and baby powder in excess of 12 ounces will be subject to additional screening. You may be asked to remove them if they’re judged dangerous or unidentifiable. Any container of powder that is 12 ounces or more will have to be X-rayed separately or inspected by hand, and if TSA officers consider the substance to be dangerous or unidentifiable, you’ll have to throw it away or move it to your checked bag in order to board the plane. 8. Lithium batteries Loose lithium batteries are not allowed in checked bags; you'll have to put them in your carry-on. The rules are here. Lithium batteries that are installed in a device can be packed into either a carry-on or checked bag. 9. Electronics Laptops, tablets, and other electronics larger than a cell phone should be removed from their cases and screened individually. Cell phones must be removed from your pocket before you enter the screening machine. Because electronic items tend to be frequent targets for security screening, you might want to pack these near the top of your bag so that inspectors don’t need to unpack your whole suitcase to get to them.

10. Sharp objects "Just don't" is the best advice I can give you regarding trying to take them through security. I thought I knew this one, but some of the rules have changed. You can find the list here. Your small scissors with less than a 4" blade, knitting and crochet needles, safety pins, tweezers, disposable razor and nail clippers are still allowed. You were once able to carry short-bladed knives, but as of right now I can only find "No" as the answer. Your meat-cleavers, antlers and throwing stars need to be in checked baggage. All sharp objects in any bag should be sheathed or securely packaged in a way that it will not injure an inspector. 11. Don't hassle with the screening agent It's a great way to miss your flight, or be made to go for a jog in order to catch it. You may think your trial shampoo bottle is smaller than 3.4 ounces, or maybe the last time you went through security no one cared that your mascara wasn’t in a clear bag. All that matters is what they’re telling you this time. While the particular TSA agent demanding you give up your “contraband” very well may be in the wrong, at that moment he or she has all the power, and arguing isn’t going to get you anywhere but possibly detained. 12. Don't joke about national security or bombs. Technically, cracking jokes about national security at an airport is not illegal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in trouble for doing it. There are numerous cases of passengers being arrested after joking about explosives or bombs while being examined at security. I personally know one. You may think your joke is funny or harmless, but remember, the TSA has no sense of humor when it comes to doing its job, and the agents are willing to err on the side of caution. 13. Seniors and children These must not be stowed in your carry-on. Just kidding. Seniors over 75 are generally exempt from having to remove articles of clothing, as are children under 12. Infants may be carried in your arms through the screening device. At age 13 and over, children must undergo the same scrutiny as adults. Additional screening/inspection/pat-down will be required if a senior or child sets off an alarm. Seniors traveling with devices, disabilities or medical conditions, check here. There is still a lot I have not discussed about going through airport security...traveling with pets, for example. How about's one thing for me to give you the rules, but I have never traveled with a pet. If you have, would you like to be the first guest writer on this blog? I think you should do it. Let me know. I'm excited just thinking about it!

'til next week.


Let's talk. I create expertly designed vacations for people who crave immersive travel. If you’re too busy to take time to plan the details of your own well-deserved escape, don't know where to begin, or are longing to make lifelong memories with those you love, then don’t wait another day.

-Juliet Weller, Founder

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