8 Tips to Help You Clear Airport Security Fast with Carry-On Only (Consider #4!)


Airports can be stressful. This could be your first trip and negotiating the maze of buildings is challenging. There are so many people, corridors, signs, shops and distractions.

You may be running late to make your flight. You might be in a foreign country. Luckily, you’re travelling with carry-on luggage only – so no baggage check is required.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s inevitable that you have to go through security and passport control.

I don’t know about you, but I always feel anxious lining up to have my baggage and body checked. I’m glad that security is so carefully monitored, but it is unnerving – and you don’t want to cause the security guards any reason to detain you as you’re rushing to get to the gate.

Nor do you want to have any of your goods confiscated – just because you’re carrying too much liquid, for example.

To help you pass safely and swiftly through security, I’m sharing with you the Planepack top tips for clearing security.

Leave Sharp Objects at Home

Not taking sharp objects might seem like a no-brainer, but it is easy to forget you have these items in your toiletry bag. Check carefully that you are not carrying the following:

  • Scissors – even blunt edged ones
  • Nail clippers – these seem like an innocuous weapon, but leave the clippers behind.
  • Tweezers – I’m not sure that these are on the hazard list, but I would not take mine.
  • Swiss Army knife – my husband has had his knife confiscated, which did not please him at all.

Limit Your Liquids

As a light traveller, you’re already aware of the limits on liquids, but it’s a good idea to refresh your memory:

  • Wine – don’t pack in a bottle of wine as a last-minute gift. Remember, it’s permissible to take on board wine that you’ve bought at duty free shops.
  • No water through security – I overcome that by flying with refillable bottles: empty the bottle of water before security and fill it again immediately afterwards.
  • Nothing over 100 ml – I’ve written previously about travelling and packing small quantities of toiletries and cosmetics. Don’t get disappointed by having your perfume confiscated.
  • Anything that could leak – this is one of my worst catastrophes. Keep in mind that objects can leak in planes. This is all the more reason to carry only small quantities.

Limit Powders

On 1 July 2018, powders joined the likes of liquids, aerosols and gels as restricted carry onboard luggage. The definition of powder is:

“Fine dry particles produced by the grinding, crushing or disintegration of a solid substance (for example, flour, sugar, ground coffee, spices, powdered milk, baby formula or cosmetics). Powders may also be presented in clumpy, grain or compressed material forms.”

  • There is no limit on organic powders, such as food and powdered baby formula.
  • There are quantity restrictions on the amount of inorganic powder that can be carried, such as salt, talcum powder and sand. Inorganic powders must be in containers of 350 millilitres (volume), 350 grams (weight) or less.
  • The total volume of inorganic powders must not exceed 350 millilitres or 350 grams per person.

Monitor Your Medicines

There might be a time when you have to travel with prescribed medicines. If this is the case, you should do the following:

  • Take prescribed drugs in their original containers;
  • Carry medicines in your hand luggage for easy access;
  • Be aware that airlines will not provide refrigeration for any medicines;
  • You will need a doctor’s letter of proof stating that you are under treatment;
  • In general, a six-month supply of medicines is not questioned.

Leave Metals at Home

Don’t you just hate being told to take off your shoes when going through security? I feel so undignified walking through the airport in my stockinged feet. Not to mention the embarrassment of putting on my shoes again with everyone looking at me. So, to evade that, I suggest you:

  • Avoid shoes with metal – no fancy buckles or heels (forget about the “low spark of high-heeled boys”) – and avoid the indignity of scampering through security in your bare or stockinged feet. Ugh!
  • Avoid wearing a belt with a metal clasp – this one’s especially annoying for blokes. It takes so long to dress again!
  • Avoid wearing heavy metallic jewellery. I’ve written previously about travelling without jewellery. Only take one ‘killer’ necklace – and mine’s plastic.

What About My Knitting?

I consulted my sister, who is a knitter, and this is her advice:

“Make sure your knitting needles have knitting displayed on them. Show your knitting intent! There are many different kinds of needles (bamboo, plastic, etc.), which might be considered safer. But always check with airlines before flying to make sure you know the rules. There’s nothing worse than trying to prove to security staff you are well within your rights by travelling with your knitting.”

Leave Your Laptop at Home

I think it’s a nuisance to have to take your laptop out of your carry-on bag when going through security. I find it slows me down, and I get flustered about unpacking and repacking.

So, my advice is to leave your laptop and tablet at home. Instead, take everything you need for business and pleasure on your smartphone.

Pass Through Passport Control

Passport control is automated at many airports, so you no longer have to front up to a real person. But you are checked via photo recognition, so remember to:

  • Take off your hat,
  • Take off your sunglasses,
  • Match yourself to your passport – if your passport photo was taken five years previously when you still had a fringe, you might want to renew your photo.

What do you do to get cleared faster at airport security? Do you have any tips to share that aren’t mentioned here? What is your advice to a first-time flyer? Please share in the comments below!

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