When you’re traveling via plane, it’s helpful to be equipped with a thorough understanding of TSA’s regulations and a good dose of common sense to get through security smoothly.
As long as you have a solid grip on the rules and you’re prepared for lines and checkpoints, you’ll glide through the airport feeling stress-free.
Let’s get into all that you should do to make sure that the first leg of your trip goes off without a hitch.
Use Your Full, Legal Name on Your Ticket
If the name on your ticket doesn’t match the name on your ID, you’ll waste time trying to prove that you are who you say you are. It might seem like a trivial tip, but nicknames (especially those that are used more often than your legal name) are sometimes used as second nature on the ticket. Always remember to use the name on your government-issued ID when buying your plane ticket!
Enroll in TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry
If you’re enrolled in TSA PreCheck®, you’re eligible to go through a security line that’s (usually) shorter and quicker than the regular line. If you’re a TSA PreCheck® member, you don’t have to take off your shoes or take out your liquids or laptops when you go through security.
Global Entry (which automatically enrolls you in TSA PreCheck® once you become a member) also speeds things along. Global Entry is especially smart for people who often travel internationally, as it speeds up the customs process upon reentering the United States.
Follow the 3-1-1 Liquid Rule
TSA’s 3-1-1 rule allows gels, liquids, and aerosols in containers of 3.4 ounces or less. All of the liquids/gels/aerosol containers must be placed in a sealed quart-sized clear plastic bag, and there’s a limit of one plastic bag per passenger.
What you might not know is what exactly the TSA considers a liquid. A good thing to keep in mind is if you can spray it, pump it, spill it, spread it, or pour it, then it counts. (That includes peanut butter, which is found in more people’s bags than you might think!)
If you’re traveling with children, know that formula and breastmilk are allowed. Make sure to let the TSA agent know you have formula or breastmilk when you reach the checkpoint.
If you’re ever unsure about something you want to pack, you can always check out TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” page.
It’s a good idea to dress as comfortably and simply as possible when you’re traveling. You don’t want to get stuck in line (or worse, hold up the line) while you unzip your boots, take off fifteen accessories, undo your belt, and take out the coins in your pocket.
Wear clothes that don’t contain metal. For example, you’ll want to keep the jeans with metallic studs and the shirts with metal buttons at home. If you keep these little details in mind, you’ll pass quickly through the metal detectors.
Slip-on shoes are your best friend while flying because they’re fast and easy. Also, wearing a jacket with big pockets can be helpful. That way, you can just throw everything that will set off the metal detectors in your pockets, put your jacket in a bin for the scanner, and pick it up on the other side.
Have Your Paperwork Ready
Resist the urge to toss your passports and IDs into a pocket or into the bottom of your purse. Instead, have them ready in your hand as soon as you enter the security line.
Know the Busiest Times and Plan Accordingly
Backups can happen at any time at security checkpoints, but they’re more likely to occur at the beginning and end of holiday weekends, summer vacation, and holiday breaks.
If you’re traveling during these times (as many people do), simply allow time for slower lines. If you can help it, try to travel around times of year when a lot of people opt to stay home. Then, your trip through airport security will fly by and you are more likely to find a travel deal.
Check Your Firearm
All firearms must be declared at the airport counter. From there, the gun case will be transported to the belly of the plane where no one can access it for the duration of the flight.
Under no circumstances should you bring your firearm through the security line, or even joke about having a weapon on your person. Safety is a priority. Such comments can warrant police involvement, even if you are joking. Have a good time, but take the security line seriously.
The Last Tip: Be Polite
What will get you smoothly through the day is understanding that TSA employees are doing their best. Being polite and keeping things in perspective will always get you where you need to be – your travel destination!
South Bend International Airport does all that we can to get you in the air as quickly as possible. After all, we’re just as excited for your trip as you are! With our easy-to-navigate terminal, efficient TSA PreCheck® lines, and friendly staff, you’ll be through the doors and up in the air in no time at all.
We offer nonstop flights to 12 destinations with connections worldwide. To book your next trip, check out the airlines who fly with us.