Airport Security 101: Tips for Smoother Travel

Like most Americans, you’ve probably had a trip in mind for the better part of the previous year. Until recently, the best we could manage was a virtual museum tour on YouTube or daydreaming about scanning the menu at our favorite waterside restaurant. Like the majority of the human population, you probably settled for imagining yourself as being anywhere other than stuck inside your own home. But the times are thankfully, if slowly, changing, and everyone at South Bend is warming up to welcome you back!

Yes, it’s nearly time to dig out your roller luggage and passports and take to the skies again. But like our luggage, we may have some cobwebs of our own that need dusting off before answering the call. 

To get you ready for a smooth, enjoyable, and fulfilling travel experience after so many months at home, South Bend offers this reminder of TSA regulations.


In past years, TSA regulations on liquids have been a tripping point for many travelers. Between figuring out what does or doesn’t constitute a “liquid” and how much you’re allowed to carry with you, these rules can often cause uncomfortable moments at checkpoints.

The 3-1-1 Rule

For carry-on luggage, the 3-1-1 rule is a lifesaver. The rule applies to liquids, aerosols, creams, and pastes; none of which should exceed 3.4oz or 100ml per container. All liquids must fit into a 1qt, translucent plastic zip-top bag, and only one bag is allowed per traveler (hence the 3-1-1 rule). 

The 3-1-1 rule stands for:

  • 3.4oz (or less) per container
  • 1qt bag
  • 1 bag per traveler

A brief list of liquid items includes:

  • Toothpaste
  • Gel deodorants
  • Shampoos
  • Lotions
  • Bottled water
  • Peanut butter
  • Jams

If you have an item of similar consistency or usage to the above listed items, it’s probably wise to assume that it qualifies under the 3-1-1 rule. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. 

The following items may be carried on in larger quantities:

  • Prescription/over-the-counter medication
  • Baby formula
  • Breast milk
  • Hand sanitizer (up to 12oz per passenger)

If you plan to carry-on essential liquids in greater quantities, make sure to point them out to security officers in case alternative screening is required. In any case, you’ll want to make sure to remove your 3-1-1 approved 1qt bag and place it in its own tray at the security checkpoint. 

Standard Screening Preparation

By now, you’re probably used to the routine: Remove your belts, shoes, and any other metallic items. Empty your pockets and take out your electronic devices. Place everything in a tray and follow the line along

Even so, it’s been a while since your last trip. Let’s walk through it once more to avoid any awkward misunderstandings later. As you make your way through the standard screening line, make sure to anticipate the following measures:

  • Remove 3-1-1 liquids bag and place in bin
  • Empty your pockets and make sure to double check (don’t miss keys, tissues, money, wallets, phones, or trash)
  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the x-ray belt
  • Remove your belt and place it in a tray
  • Remove all electronic devices larger than a phone (laptops, tablets, e-readers, gaming consoles) and place them into a bin in a single layer (nothing underneath them)
  • Remember to collect all your items before moving on

It’s as simple as that! When you show up prepared for the standard screening, you give yourself the best possible chance of getting through smoothly before heading on to greener pastures.


Bringing the appropriate identification to the airport is an absolute must. But will your driver’s license be enough? Should you also bring your passport? What about this REAL ID you keep hearing about? 

A full list of valid IDs can be found at the TSA’s website. But for brevity’s sake, here’s a short list of acceptable ID forms for adult passengers over the age of 18:

  • Driver’s license (or other state photo identity cards)
  • U.S. Passport or passport card
  • Foreign passport
  • U.S. DoD card
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Federally recognized tribal-issued ID

Make sure your ID of choice hasn’t expired since your last trip. It’s worth remembering also that the TSA does not require children under 18 years of age to provide identification for domestic travel.


The Real ID Act was passed by congress in 2005 to bolster security measures for air travel throughout the U.S. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start date for Real ID has been pushed back again and will now go into effect on May 3, 2023. Beyond that date, travelers will need a REAL ID to fly domestically.

Your state’s driver’s license agency can issue you a REAL ID, noticeable by a black, cut-out star symbol on your card. You can read more about the REAL ID requirements here

Welcome Back

The most important aspect of air travel remains the sense of excitement we all feel when heading off on a journey! As we all get back to something like normal, it’s important to prepare as much as possible while still anticipating a snag or two.

Here at South Bend, sensible COVID precautions and safety measures remain in place for greater peace of mind. For more information about luggage restrictions, great seasonal destinations, or upcoming REAL ID requirements, check out South Bend’s website here or the TSA website here!

South Bend is as excited as you are to help you get wherever you’re going in style, comfort, and class! Welcome back!

South Bend International Airport keeps you prepared! 

As we all ease back into daily life beyond our front doors, it’s important to keep up to date about TSA security protocols and COVID safety measures–both at your local airport and at all destinations. With these TSA security tips and reminders, you should be well prepared for your much-needed adventure! For more information, contact us at (574) 282-4590 ext. 230, or check out! Fast. Smart. Affordable. Safe.

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