By Jeremy Miville
TSA has been charged with keeping us safe during our travels. It’s no easy task. As travelers, we should be willing to do all we can to help them in this process. Sure, sometimes this pulls us out of our comfort zone (full body scan, anyone?) but in the end, knowing the passenger to my left was screened as thoroughly as I was is comforting.
Here are some tips to keep airport security lines short, travelers prepared, and faces smiling as you cross the TSA gates:
The 3-1-1 Rule
Know it, love it, and follow it. The 3-1-1 rule dictates how passengers bring liquids on the flight. Your carry on is allowed to contain ONE quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes. However, the size for each item is limited to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. There are aisles of 3-1-1 sized items at nearly every pharmacy and big-box store, so start there.
You can carry on more than you think
You can bring a light saber on the flight. You can bring a live fish on the flight. Can’t travel without your bowling ball, you can bring that too. In fact, TSA has a whole section dedicated to what you can and cannot bring. It’s awesome, if only to skim and question why someone needs to have antlers in their carry on.
Check it out: TSA, What can I bring?
Medications are exempt from the 3-1-1 rule. Your medically necessary liquids, medications and creams can be placed in your carry-on bag, but you’ll still need to remove them from your bag to be screened. Just be sure to inform the TSA officer BEFORE screening begins.
Age 75 and older screening options
You have the option to leave your shoes and a light jacket on during screenings, but if you set off an alarm during the security screening, you may be required to remove your items or undergo a pat-down.
TSA hours of operation
Taking the first flight out and want to avoid lines at screening? Remember that not all airports operate under a 24 hour schedule. Make sure you know what time the TSA check point opens. While your flight may be 6:30 AM, the TSA may not open their gates until 5 AM. Getting there at 4 AM may avoid the line, but not the hour long wait.
At the end of it all, just be kind, patient and helpful. You’re headed somewhere awesome, and the agents have 8 more hours of reminding people to take their belts off.