Summer travel season is in full swing and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers are eager to share their top “dos and don’ts” for travelers.
TSA officers have an insider’s view of what results in a smooth security screening process and what slows down the process. They are so keenly attuned to security operations and the everyday ebb and flow at a security checkpoint that they have identified a few things that they never do when they are passengers. Here are their six favorite tips and six things that they never do when they’re flying.
Six tips that TSA officers want to share
- When purchasing a ticket online, enter your full name as it appears on your ID. Do not enter your nick-name, even if it’s what your besties use. The name on your boarding pass should match the name on your ID.
- Enroll in TSA PreCheck®. It is hands-down the best way to travel through a security checkpoint because you can leave on your shoes, belt, light outerwear jacket. It’s typically the lane with travelers who are most familiar with the screening process and so the lane moves quickly. Children ages 17 and under who are traveling on their parent’s reservation can go through the TSA PreCheck lane with their parent.
- Download the free myTSA app. The app has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that will let you know where to pack an item. It will let you know the estimated wait time at a checkpoint. It lets you know if there are flight delays at your airport; and it will let you know when the TSA PreCheck lane is open.
- Wear shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. Shoes or that lace up your calf will slow you down. Slip-on shoes are best. And do yourself a favor, wear socks!
- If you find yourself in a checkpoint line, use that time wisely. Remove all items from your pockets and place them into your carry-on bag. Empty your pockets completely. That means everything, even non-metallic items from tissues to breath mints. This helps avoid pat-downs. We know that travelers don’t like to receive pat-downs. TSA officers aren’t too keen on needing to conduct pat-downs either.
- Place your mobile phone inside your carry-on bag at the checkpoint. Don’t put it in a bin where other people have placed their shoes. You don’t want to put your phone in a bin and then hold it up to your face. Yuck.
Six things TSA officers never do when they are flying
- Do not joke about having an explosive device or claim that you’ve got a bomb with you. The next thing you know, you’ll be having a very serious conversation with a local police officer and you may not make your flight.
- Never put your pet or child through the checkpoint X-ray unit. (Yes, it happens.) No need to expose them to X-rays. Remove your pet from its carry-on case and remove your child from its carrier. Carry them through the metal detector.
- Never bring your firearm to a security checkpoint. If you want to travel with your gun, the proper way to pack it is unloaded inside a locked hard-sided case and declared at your airline counter for the gun case to be transported in the belly of the aircraft.
- Never use your mouth as an extra hand. Your ID is handled by others and goes into a credential reader along with thousands of other IDs. Then you put it into your mouth while you fidget with your phone? Gross.
- Never place small items directly onto the X-ray belt. Phones, keys, boarding passes and anything else that is small will likely fall between the conveyor belt’s rollers and can be difficult (or impossible) to retrieve. Instead, place these smaller items into a bowl, bin, or better yet—into your carry-on bag.
- Never bring a bottle of water to a security checkpoint, however you can bring an empty water bottle or reusable insulated container with you and then fill it up on the secure side of the checkpoint. It’s a great way to refill it with fresh water, help the environment and save a few bucks by not having to purchase it in the airport.