Airport security check: Top tips to go through it quickly

Are you a first-time flyer or an experienced one? In both cases, it’s possible that you dread the airport security check.

But there’s nothing to worry about if you follow our tips.

Let’s find out once and for all how to make this process as smooth and fast as possible

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Allow for enough time to get through airport security

How early should you be at the airport? That depends on whether you travel light or have some luggage to check in.

Take a note when your gate opens for departure and make sure to allow for enough time to go through all the queues. It could take an hour to go through airport security alone.

Many airlines advise you on how early you should be at the airport, especially if it is an exceptionally busy time (like the winter holidays). If you can’t find this information in your email, search on their website - in terms and conditions or the FAQ section.

Often, 3 to 4 hours before departure is a reasonable time to arrive at the airport. You might go through all desks and airport security check quickly, then have to wait until your gate opens, but at least you won’t be in a hurry, risking to miss your flight.

Note that if you miss your flight, you won’t be eligible for a refund or flight compensation.

Look for the shorter queue

That’s somewhat obvious.

Most airports have several security checkpoints and naturally, the ones closer to the most “popular” gates are the busiest. Why not pick the less busy ones then? They might be further away from your gate but actually save you a lot of time.

Luckily, you can often see a member of airport staff pointing you toward the shortest line.

Prepare your documents in advance

There is always someone who stops and blocks the way, patting their pockets, wondering where they left their ID and boarding pass. If you don’t want to be that person, keep your documents where you can get them out quickly.

Have your passport or ID and your boarding pass already in your hand so that you can present them to the traffic officer swiftly and move on.

Take off your jacket, belt and watch while waiting

There are things you need to remove before going through the airport security scan. These include your jacket, belt (if you are wearing one), watch, phone and any jewellery that might set off the metal detectors. Sometimes you might be required to take off your shoes too.

Listen to the instructions and place all these items in a separate basket from the one with your electronic devices.

Prepare your electronics and carry-on liquids in advance

Now even those who haven’t been on a plane probably know that airport security checks the liquids and electronics from your hand baggage. Make sure you place them on top in your backpack or carry-on suitcase so that they’re easy to take out without having to rummage to find them.

It is generally not advised to place your electronic devices in your hold baggage. As for liquids, they are less valuable, but still, if you want to avoid any spills and nasty spots on your clothes, it’s better to avoid taking big bottles of shampoo and shower gel in your hold luggage.

check in desks at an airport

Never bring any liquids over 100 ml or other forbidden items

This rule is not new, but there is always someone who hasn’t got the drill. As a result, the whole queue is slowed down and everyone gets annoyed.

If you don’t want to see your things thrown away, make sure to pack your liquids (gels, pastes, aerosoles, etc.) as required. They should be in containers of no more than 100 ml each and make no more than 1 L in total. The containers must easily fit in a standard resealable plastic bag.

If you forget a bottle in your hand luggage, when it goes through the x-ray machines, it will be detected and it’s likely that your whole bag will need to be inspected by a security officer.

Read here the complete list of what you can and cannot bring on a plane with you.

Note: If you’re travelling with a baby, you are allowed to take with you as much baby milk, baby food and sterilised water as you need, as well as any essential medicine (with a doctor’s note or prescription).

On the other hand, everyone can bring items and liquids on the plane, even if they surpass the limit of 100 ml, if they are bought from the duty free area of the airport after you pass security.

Have a digital copy of your boarding pass

Even if you have printed out your boarding pass, it’s a good idea to have a digital version of it on your mobile device, just in case.

However, you can’t depend on having access to the web. It’s best to have an offline version of your boarding pass - simply download it to your smartphone or take a screenshot.

Pick a less busy date and time to travel

If possible, avoid peak hours. Those are in the morning and evening during the week when there are many business travellers, and Fridays in general when many people leave for a holiday.

Another smart idea is to fly early in the morning (before 7 am) or late at night (on so-called red eye flights) - you will not only avoid queues, but also save money since flights in this time range are usually cheaper.

Avoid joking about bombs

You’ve probably heard stories about how someone joked at the airport security check about having a bomb and ended up being held and questioned by aviation security for a long time.

There aren’t technically any laws regarding this but national security is no joking matter. If you want to spare yourself and your fellow passengers unpleasant scenes, save your jokes for later. It isn’t worth risking being arrested and even missing your flight over a misunderstanding.

Don’t argue with airport security staff

There are certain security measures for a reason - not only at UK airports, but everywhere. Even if the previous time you went through airport security no one asked you to take your boots off, this time you might have to. There is no point arguing with the officers - they’re simply doing their job and even if you think they’re wrong, you’ll only make things worse for yourself if you fail to comply.

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Avoid contraband

This might sound funny, but depending on the country you’re flying to, there might be particular rules and forbidden objects you might not know about. Always check in advance the airline’s policy as well as the airport’s website so that you are sure what you can and cannot bring with you. Otherwise, not only your items will be thrown out, you might even be questioned.

Sign up for TSA precheck (US only)

US citizens who are frequent flyers might have the option to sign up for TSA precheck, which means they’ll be allowed to keep their shoes and belt on. Moreover, they won’t be obliged to take out the electronics out of their bags, which will save them time at airport security.

To sum up

Going through airport security check is a standard security procedure that every air passenger needs to undergo. Hopefully, after having read this article, you will now find it less stressful and time-consuming.

Finally, if you check in online and travel only with a carry on, that’s one queue less. Just make sure you check in advance what your baggage allowance is so that you don’t lose both time and money when you get stopped just before boarding.

Stay safe!