In just a few weeks, summer will be upon us, bringing the busiest travel season of the year.
If you’re like me, you have big travel plans in store. I’m heading back to Europe for three action-packed weeks of fun – visiting my other home of Berlin and spending time in Split, Mostar, Dubrovnik, and maybe even Budapest.
As excited as I am about my trip (it’s hard to sleep sometimes as I’m that eager), there’s always one thing I dread when travelling and that’s airport security.
I remember last summer when I was coming home from my Berlin vacation. I was to fly from Berlin to Amsterdam to Detroit, and then finally Toronto. As much as I wished I was a contestant on the Amazing Race, pursuing that cash prize of $1,000,000, this was the unfortunate flight path of a woman who bought the cheapest ticket available at the time.
It seemed like the longest day ever as I was making my way home to Toronto, passing security checkpoint after checkpoint. I was interviewed multiple times, x-rayed, and patted down in an invasive manner, and I even had my baggage sniffed by dogs. By the time I reached Toronto, I was exhausted and even a little grumpy.
Tips to Get by Airport Security Quickly and Easily
What if there were some ways to make passing through security a little bit easier?
Security is something that we’ll never be able to avoid, but these tips from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) will help to make your experience a little easier.
While some of these tips apply specifically to Canadians, many of them are applicable to anyone, anywhere.
Photo via CT Pham
Know your carry-on baggage limits and don’t exceed them.
There’s a 100 ml limit on the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) that you can bring onboard. This includes things like alcohol, maple syrup (oh soooo Canadian) and hand lotion.
I don’t know about you, but I hate to look or feel bad on a long flight. To keep things simple, I bring along a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste and also pack mints. To smell good, I bring along travel-sized deodorant and a perfume stick. I also pack make-up wipes to keep my face fresh and clean. For make-up, I usually bring along a foundation/powder combination compact, avoiding any liquid foundation in a glass container. To keep my hands moist, I pack a tiny-sized hand cream sampler (available in most drugstores).
Be sure to package your LAGs in a clear plastic bag; a standard-sized ziplock will do. Stick to the size rules and be sure your expensive beauty products do not get confiscated by security officials.
I’m not really the sporty type (I’m just starting to get into running), but for those of you who are, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Baseball bats, golf clubs and surfboards are only allowed in your checked baggage, but you can bring along sports racquets for carry-on.
- Fishing poles without hooks are fine in carry-on, but those with hooks and tackle need to be checked.
- Scuba tanks are permitted in checked bags. Consult your airline for any other restrictions beforehand.
- For you campers out there, one lighter for personal use is allowed in carry-on, but lighters are not permitted in checked baggage. Matches are not permitted in carry-on or checked baggage. Flammable materials – for example, white gas or butane for camping stoves – are not permitted in carry-on or checked baggage.
Avoid Excessive Accessories
Like most women, I love wearing jewellery, but perhaps avoid these accessories when flying or pack them into your purse before you get into the security line.
If you must wear a belt, take it off while you’re waiting in line before you get to the security checkpoint.
Wear footwear that can easily be taken on and off, in case you’re required to remove your shoes during the security inspection.
Photo via Anaa Yoo
While travelling, you’ll be sure to pick up plenty of presents for yourself, and if you’re not selfish (hee-hee), for your loved ones, too.
Don’t wrap your gifts as security officials may need to open them for inspection.
Knives, aka Dangerous Weapons
I feel like everyone should know this rule already, but people continue to try getting past airport security with the weirdest things, like “sword canes.”
Jackknives, decorative or ceremonial knives and multitools with blades cannot travel in carry-on bags. Butterfly knives, switchblades and other illegal knives (and replicas) are also prohibited and cannot go in carry-on or checked bags.
Be Prepared to Wait
No matter what, you’re always going to have to wait in line. To avoid stressing yourself out and others around you, arrive early and give yourself plenty of time before your flight to check luggage, go through security, etc.
You can even check security line waiting times online!
Have Your Documents Ready
Keep your passport, boarding pass and any other pertinent documents readily available as you’ll have to present them to officials multiple times.
Photo via Patrick Ng
Pack Your Electronics and Valuables in Your Carry-On
Checked luggage is inspected and even raided all the time in airports around the world, so never pack your valuables in your checked luggage.
Keep your laptop, iPod, iPad and the like in your carry-on, and know that a laptop needs to be taken out of its bag and placed into its own bin.
If you have loose change or wads of cash in your pocket, take them out and store them in your purse or a pocket in your carry-on.
Kids Get the VIP Treatment
If you have children under the age of two, you can use the Family/Special Needs line.
Here’s a bonus – baby food, breast milk, formula, water, and juice are exempt from the aforementioned 100 ml LAGs limit.
Good to Know
For further reading, check out these great resources:
- 16 Ways to Get Through the Airport Faster
- How to Get Through TSA Screening Quickly
- Airport Security – Quick Tips to Help You Zoom Through
Do you have any tips? If yes, leave a comment below.
* Disclosure – This post was done in collaboration with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.
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