Going through airport security can be a stressful experience: long lines, early morning hours, and that unspoken pressure to take off your shoes and put your electronics in a bin at record speed. Since all carry-on baggage needs to be screened – and some items, like liquids and electronics, need to be screened separately – it can be a slow process. The good news? There are some things you can do on your end to make the process a little smoother.
By acquainting yourself with current airport guidelines and security requirements – and packing accordingly – you can set yourself up for a seamless passage through security and to your gate. In this guide, we’re rounding up our best sustainable carry-on packing tips to make airport security a breeze and help you avoid single-use plastics (like those plastic bags for securing liquids) in the process.
Check the TSA Rules Ahead of Time
In the U.S., rules and regulations put forth by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) do change from time to time, whether that’s in regards to the size and shape of a TSA compliant bag, security restrictions surrounding a bag’s contents, or general rules enacted for everyone’s safety and well-being.
So to avoid accidentally packing something you shouldn’t, do your research ahead of time to double check the TSA rules regarding what’s prohibited versus permitted in carry-on luggage when going through the security checkpoint. After all, no one wants to be that person who accidentally brought a full water bottle and is now forced to chug the whole thing or regretfully throw it away while the rest of the line watches on. The moral of the story? Visit the TSA’s website for a refresher before you pull up to the airport.
Use a Carry-On Bag with Multiple Compartments
Packing all of your travel must-haves into a backpack, bag, or small rolling suitcase can be a daunting feat! But choosing carry on luggage with lots of compartments will help keep you organized, streamline your airport security experience, and make your life much easier on the plane, too. One of our most important travel packing tips is to opt for a carry-on bag or backpack that has pockets or compartments for the things you’ll need easy access to at the security checkpoint, at the gate, and on the plane.
Think: built-in laptop sleeve; a small compartment for your wallet, boarding pass, ID and/or passport; a space for your travel-friendly liquids (more on that in a minute), and so on. And by ensuring everything has its own designated pocket, you’ll also bypass that heart-stopping moment of thinking you left something behind at security.
Prepare Your Travel Liquids
All travel liquids in your carry-on must be in small bottles – 100ml (3.4oz) or less – and should all fit in one clear resealable travel friendly liquid bag no bigger than a quart size. While separating out your liquids and transferring them to travel-sized containers might sound like a hassle, it’s saving you time in the long run: failing to separate your liquids in your carry-on often means your bag has to be re-screened, thus delaying you even further.
So save yourself the headache and follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule: each liquid must be in a container that’s 3.4 ounces or less; liquids must be placed inside a quart-sized, clear, resealable bag; and each passenger is allowed one bag of liquids.
But using a new disposable plastic bag for every trip contributes to the masses of single-use plastics in our landfills and oceans, while reusing a disposable plastic bag can lead to ripping or spills. To protect the planet and your carry-on’s contents, opt for a TSA-friendly Stasher Quart Bag.
Unlike single-use plastic bags, Stasher bags are super durable and endlessly reusable, so you can bring the same Stasher bag with you every time you travel. And the leak-free design means that everything from your laptop to your boarding pass is protected from accidental explosions of shampoo or sunscreen.
Be Ready to Take Your Electronics Out
Once you have your ID and boarding pass checked by a TSA agent, you’ll move ahead into the next section of the security checkpoint for bag screening. As you load your carry-on luggage onto the conveyor belt, you’ll be asked to remove any electronics from your bags and place them into separate trays.
This includes items like laptops, tablets, iPads, kindles, e-readers, large cameras, and more – remove from cases, and put electronics in their own bins to be screened separately. In general, electronics that are the size of a mobile phone or smaller (like headphones, AirPods, phones, or small cameras) can be left secured inside your carry-on bag as it moves along on the conveyor belt.
Knowing all of this ahead of time – and using a bag with compartments that lets you quickly access your electronics – will help this process go faster for you, and for everyone else in line behind you.
Keys, Loose Change, Belt
As your bag moves along the conveyor belt to be screened by the airport x-ray, you’ll be screened either by an airport body scanner or a metal detector. For this step, be sure that you’ve taken off your belt if you wear one and removed any loose change or keys from your pockets – all of this will go in a bin on the conveyor belt with the rest of your belongings. (Jewelry can usually be kept on.) This extra step of emptying your pockets is ultimately a time-saver: if you forget to do so, you’ll have to pass through the scanner again and possibly be subject to a pat-down security procedure as well, taking up additional time.
Wear Slip On Shoes
Prior to going through the body scanner or metal detector, you’ll likely be asked to remove your shoes for security screening purposes. Our time saving tip is to wear slip on shoes to the airport! Comfy footwear that slips on and off (like sandals, slip-on sneakers, or flats) will make your airport security experience much quicker compared to shoes that need to be buckled, laced, or tied.
While airports aren’t usually the most peaceful of places, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress by being prepared and knowing how to pack for airport security! As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail, so set yourself up for success by double checking TSA guidelines ahead of time; separating out your liquids into a TSA-friendly Stasher bag; and having electronics, shoes, and items in your pockets ready to remove into a bin for separate screening. From all of us at Stasher, we’re wishing you safe travels and a smooth airport security experience!