Security Screening

AT THE AIRPORT - Getting through the screening process

Keep two things with you from the time you enter the airport to the time you board your flight: a current photo ID and your boarding pass. Typically you will be asked to show both items at the security gates (sometimes more than once) and again as you board, but you could be asked to ante up at any time, so it’s best to keep them handy at all times.

Security lines can be long, especially during peak travel times such as holidays. Plan on arriving at least two hours before your flight departs. Airlines recommend arriving three hours before international departures. To help speed the process, most airlines will allow you to print your boarding pass from home so that you can proceed directly to security.

Once in the security lines, keep them moving quickly by removing coats and shoes ahead of time and placing jewelry, change and keys inside your carry-on. As you hit the front of the lines, you can anticipate an x-ray for all carry-on items and a trip through the metal detector. Also note that you could be chosen randomly for a pat-down search. This should be conducted by a screener of the same gender, and you have the option to request a private room should you require additional screening.
  • Do NOT bring drinks or other liquids to the airport checkpoint unless they are approved and permissable items to fly.
  • Do NOT bring food to checkpoint unless it is wrapped or in a container. Unpeeled natural foods like fruit are okay, but may be confiscated depending on the routing.
  • Put all metal items in your carry-on bag. This includes jewelry, loose change, keys, mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs).
  • Take OUT your laptop computer. Place it in a bin, separate from its carrying case.
  • Take OFF your outer coat. Place it in a bin. Suit jackets and blazers do not have to be removed, unless requested by the screener.
  • Wear slip on shoes to avoid extra time spent unlacing stubborn shoes or boots.
  • Remove children from car seats and strollers, and pets from carriers. The carrying devices will be scanned with the x-ray machine separately.
  • Have proper ID and your boarding pass easily accessible.
  • Refrain from cell phone use while at the security point. This will allow you to pay full attention to the officers’ requests and the environment around you.

Complying with airport safety guidelines can seem like an invasion of our privacy. Be sure to not act scared or nervous by security measures you are unfamiliar with. It's likely you may encounter military personnel, bomb sniffing dogs or you may even be checked for explosive residue on your clothing. Always remain calm and just know it’s part of the process. 

If you happen to be chosen by airport safety personnel to step aside and received a little extra attention, don't get upset. Most of these searches are random and it does not mean you have triggered any suspicion. If you do feel unfairly singled out, visit for resources on filing complaints with the Department of Transportation. 


If you have any questions about any of these procedures, please call the TSA Consumer Response Center toll-free at 1-866-289-9673, Monday - Friday between 8am-6pm (24 hour voicemail). You may also email TSA at [email protected].

Once you have made it through the gates you can relax and grab a coffee while you wait for your flight, but remember, you can't take it (or any liquids) with you on board! REMEMBER: Security Officers have the authority to determine if an item could be used as a weapon and may not allow said item to pass through checkpoints.