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Airport Security & Preparation Tips

Prepare for Takeoff is more than a slogan; it is a call for action. Everyone needs to play an active role in contributing to air travel security. Together, airlines, airports, travel agents, government officials, and you, the passenger, can contribute to making air travel safe, secure, and efficient.

How can I contribute?

Become a Smart Traveler. There are preparations you can make before you arrive at the airport to help you move more quickly and efficiently through the new security processes. Here you will find suggestions on what to wear to the airport and how to pack for your trip. We've also included a pre-flight checklist to help you Prepare for Takeoff.

Dress the Part

Be aware that any metal detected at the checkpoint must be identified. If you set off the alarm, you will be required to undergo a secondary screening, including a hand-wanding and a pat-down inspection.

You can remove metal items at the security checkpoint and place them in the bins provided. The bins will be sent through the X-ray machine. You can save time, however, by not wearing metal items or by placing such items in your carry-on baggage before you get in line.

TIP: Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry, or other accessories that contain metal when traveling.

  • Jewelry (pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyard or bolo tie)
  • Shoes with steel tips, heels, shanks, buckles or nails
  • Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs
  • Metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration
  • Belt buckles
  • Under-wire brassieres

Hidden items such as body piercings may result in a pat-down inspection. You may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.

TIP: Avoid placing metal items in your pockets.

  • Keys, loose change, lighters
  • Mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs)

TIP: Instead, place jewelry and other metal items in your carry-on baggage until you clear security.

TIP: Pack your outer coat or jacket in your baggage when possible.

Outer coats including trench coats, ski jackets, leather jackets, overcoats and parkas must go through the X-ray machine for inspection. If you choose to wear an outer coat to the checkpoint, you will need to either place it in your carry-on or put it in the bin that is provided for you. You will not need to remove suit jackets or blazers unless requested by the screener.

Plan Ahead - Pack Smart

Carry-on Baggage is a small piece of luggage you take onboard the airplane with you. You are allowed one carry-on in addition to one personal item such as a laptop computer, purse, small backpack, briefcase, or camera case.

Checked Baggage is luggage you check in at the ticket counter or at curbside. It will not be accessible during your flight.

Below are a number of tips for packing your checked baggage that will help to speed your trip and ensure that your checked bag makes the flight with you.

  • Don't put film in your checked baggage, as the screening equipment will damage it.
  • Consider putting personal belongings in clear plastic bags to reduce the chance that a TSA screener will have to handle them.
  • Pack shoes, boots, sneakers, and other footwear on top of other contents in your luggage.
  • Avoid over-packing your bag so that the screener will be able to easily reseal your bag if it is opened for inspection.
  • If possible, spread your contents over several bags. Check with your airline or travel agent for maximum weight limitations.
  • Avoid packing food and drink items in checked baggage.
  • Don't stack piles of books or documents on top of each other; spread them out within your baggage.

You can move through the screening process more quickly by following these packing tips:

  • Do NOT pack or bring prohibited items to the airport.
  • Put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.
  • Check ahead of time with your airline or travel agent to determine the airline's baggage policy, including number of pieces you can bring and size and weight limitations.
  • Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1.
  • Don't forget to place identification tags with your name, address and phone number on all of your baggage, including your laptop computer. It is a good idea to place an identification tag inside your baggage as well.
  • Avoid overpacking so that your articles don't spill out if your bag is opened for inspection.
  • Think carefully about the personal items you place in your carry-on baggage. The screeners may have to open your bag and examine its contents.
  • Consider placing articles in clear plastic bags inside your baggage to minimize handling of your personal items.
  • Wait to wrap your gifts. Be aware that wrapped gifts may need to be opened for inspection. This applies to both carry-on and checked baggage.

Before You Arrive: Final Checklist

  • To determine how early to arrive at the airport. Recommended check-in times differ by airline and airport.
  • To determine whether you should go to the ticket counter or checked-baggage screening area first. Not all airports are the same since the addition of checked-baggage screening. Curbside check-in may also be available.
  • If you do not have checked baggage and you already have a boarding pass, ticket or ticket confirmation, you can proceed directly to your gate through the security checkpoint. Please note that certain airlines do not offer gate check-in.

Check with your airport

  • To confirm which parking lots are open if you will be parking at the airport. Some lots may be closed for security reasons. Be sure to allow extra time for parking and shuttle transportation.

Check to make sure you:

  • Bring a boarding pass, ticket, or ticket confirmation, such as a printed itinerary and a government-issued photo ID. Children under the age of 18 do not require an ID.
  • Bring evidence verifying you have a medical implant or other device if it is likely to set off the alarm on the metal detector, bring evidence verifying this condition. Although this is not a requirement, it may help to expedite the screening process.
  • Have removed prohibited items such as pocketknives, scissors, and tools from your carry-on baggage.

Have a safe trip and enjoy your flight!

For further details and information please access the Transportation Security Administration’s website at