At TSA airport security, you have to remove your hat, outer layer, coins, bulky jewelry and watches, a belt with a metal buckle, and, at times, other objects.
They may even ask you to remove your shoes and headphones.
We all agree that the airport security line is a strange and unpleasant place even when flying domestically.
The good news? The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) will stop being such a nightmare if you manage to follow all the travel tips below.
Which Items Do You Have to Remove at Airport Security?
The sensitivity levels of airport scanners vary. Some metal detectors will not go off even if you forget to take off your belt, while others will react to bobby pins.
In any case, the ultimate goal is to get through airport security faster. Individuals who don’t have these items will have reduced security wait times, so follow these travel tips and check the TSA website for further information.
- A belt
You have to remove belts with too much metal, or you may get a pat-down or private screening.
Also, even though a plastic buckle won’t make the metal detectors go off, the TSA agent might not immediately notice that it is not metal (so, they will ask to take the belt off anyway). Thus, it’s better to wear clothing without metal or that looks metal when you go through the screening checkpoint.
- Inexpensive and large metal jewelry pieces
Platinum, gold, silver, and most other valuable items won’t cause any inconveniences, but pieces made out of cheap magnetic materials can make the metal detectors go off.
In some airports, you have to remove any kind of watch. So, you should put bulky jewelry or those made out of cheap materials in the plastic bin.
- A non-religious head covering
You can keep your head covered during screening, but you should always remove your headgear unless it’s a religious head covering.
- Outer layers
Cardigans, jackets, hoodies, coats – all of these items must be screened separately.
But, if you’re over 75, you don’t need to remove light jackets. However, if the machine goes off, security will ask you to remove it.
Even though no rule states you have to remove your glasses, it would be suspicious if you leave your sunglasses on while going through airport security.
You do not need to remove regular glasses, though.
Always feel your pockets to ensure you do not forget to take out change. Or, you may get a pat-down screening.
Keys and other small metal objects will make the metal detectors go off.
- Face or body piercings
Larger piercings can make the machine beep. If you want to avoid a pat-down from an airport screening official, you should take the piercing off beforehand.
But, when it comes to hearing aids, pacemakers, metal plates and screws (in your body), intrauterine devices, and other health-related items, these things will not get detected.
However, the hand-held scanner that the airport security sometimes uses can affect a pacemaker. So, you might want to show security your pacemaker card or simply notify them about your device just in case.
- Undeveloped film
You do not need to remove film in the screening area, but x-ray machines can damage undeveloped film.
Do I Need to Remove My Shoes at Airport Security?
Airport security screeners can ask you to remove your shoes. Especially if they look complicated, have buckles, are very high, have heels, or a platform.
At times, they may ask you to take off even the simplest-looking pair, so opt for easily removable shoes if you want to get through security as quickly as possible.
Also, wear socks to avoid getting a foot infection.
Can I Wear AirPods Through Airport Security?
AirPods won’t trigger the detector, but airport security might ask you to put them in your carry-on bag so they can go through the scan.
The same applies to other headphones.
Which Items Do You Have to Take Out of Your Bag At Airport Security?
Here are some items that you will need to remove for the airport security screening process as well as some packing tips.
- Toiletries and liquids
Ensure that all liquid and gel items follow the 3-1-1 rule (no more than 3.4 ounces per container in a one quart-sized zip-top clear bag and only one bag per person).
And when at airport security, remove any liquid and gel product from your carry-on baggage or personal items and put it in a separate bin.
But just remember that you should look up what the TSA considers a liquid and what they don’t. For example, toothpaste is not a liquid, but mascara is.
Also, you should know that some liquids, like lighter fluid, are prohibited items.
Finally, until further notice, you can bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in your carry-on or personal item bag.
- Powder or liquid medications
You have to place certain medications in separate bins. If the medicine is not in a powder or liquid form, though, you can leave it in your bag.
Additionally, consider putting powders in your checked bags unless you may need them on the flight.
- Electronic devices bigger than a cell phone
Place your devices in a separate bin so they won’t interfere with the image when in the screening machine.
Ideally, you would want to place food in a plastic bag and a separate bin.
- Children’s items
Toys, blankets, strollers, and carriers must go through x-ray screening. If the object doesn’t fit in the machine, the security officer will manually screen it.
- Animal crates
The crate has to pass through the machine, so don’t forget to bring a leash. The actual pet would have to go through the metal detector, and the officer can pat down the animal if there is such a need.
- ID and Boarding Pass
You must show your driver’s license and boarding pass to the TSA security officers at all security screening checkpoints.
What Electronics Do You Have to Take Out at Security Checkpoints?
Anything larger than most mobile phones. Thus, cell phones can stay in your bag, but your tablet, laptop, camera, large power bank, and so on, have to come out.
Also, when putting your electronics in a bin, you have to make sure nothing is under or on top of them.
Additionally, ensure that all the electronics you bring are well-charged. TSA officers can ask you to switch the device on, and if the battery is dead, security can confiscate the item.
When it comes to cables and chargers, however, you don’t have to remove them from your bag. Just make sure you have packed them tight since too many cables can end up cluttering the X-ray images.
If you have a lot of chargers, you can use a travel electronics organizer and put it in a separate bin to avoid additional inspections.
Do You Have to Remove Your Laptop at Airport Security?
You can leave your laptop in the carry-on if the bag meets the checkpoint-friendly design criteria. For instance,
- You must have a designated laptop-only section.
- The section should not have any zips, pockets, or straps on either side.
- You must place the bag flat on the belt.
- You shouldn’t put anything else below or above the laptop, so there are no obstructions during the security screening process.
Do bear in mind that even if your bag is laptop-friendly, the officer might still ask you to remove the device.
Can You Take Food Through Airport Security?
Yes, you can bring solid foods in your carry-on.
Even though you do not have to take food out of your bag, you should still do so because some foods can obstruct the images during x-ray screening.
Overall, you can take almost any food item through the security checkpoint. Simply make sure to put the foods in a spill-proof container or bag.
Do I Need to Remove My Vape?
You can have various electronic smoking devices, but only in carry-on bags. You can not have vapes in checked baggage.
Additionally, you might want to remove the battery to prevent accidental activation of the heating element, which can cause a fire.
Thus, because of the possibility of fire, you can go through airport security only if the batteries do not exceed 100Wh (for lithium-ion batteries) or 2 grams (for lithium-metal batteries).
Furthermore, security can ask you to break your electronic cigarette down. So, you might want to disassemble the device and empty the tank beforehand.
Finally, remember that you can not travel on a plane with marijuana or THC products in the United States. If you do, you may get questioned or even arrested by a law enforcement officer.
Which Items Can You Carry into the Passenger Compartment?
Apart from the most obvious items, here are a few other things you can take with you.
- Liquid prescription medications are exempt from the 3-1-1 rule. So, you can bring them in ‘reasonable quantities.’
- Breast milk is another liquid that does not have to comply with the quart-sized bag rule. However, you need to notify the officer and remove the milk from your carry-on during screening.
- You can bring small bottles of alcohol, as long as they don’t exceed 140 proof and comply with the 3-1-1 rule. But, for some airlines, you have to put alcohol in checked luggage.
- Even ice packs are fine. Yet, they should be fully solid when you go through the screening process.
What About Customs?
The above information is primarily for domestic flights. However, when you go through customs for international flights, you may need to take out certain items depending on the country you go to, sometimes including duty-free items.
Table of Contents
- Which Items Do You Have to Remove at Airport Security?
- Which Items Do You Have to Take Out of Your Bag At Airport Security?
- Which Items Can You Carry into the Passenger Compartment?
- What About Customs?