Air Travel Tips

Enhanced TSA security screening that meets the current threat environment along with significant increases in travel volume are expected to significantly contribute to longer lines at airport security checkpoints.

In order to maintain the highest levels of security TSA must ensure that every person and every piece of baggage that goes aboard a commercial aircraft is properly screened, and that process takes time.

Travelers are reminded to take steps to facilitate the screening process by preparing ahead of time.


  • Apply for a Trusted Traveler program, such as TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and Sentri. These programs help improve security and reduce wait times.

  • Arrive early. The increase in travel volume has a wide-ranging effect. Consider incorporating additional time in your travel plans for traffic, parking, rental car returns and airline check-in. Arrive up to two hours in advance of your flight departure time for domestic travel and three hours for international flights.

  • Prepare for security. Have an acceptable ID and boarding pass out and remove large electronics, including laptops and the 3-1-1 compliant liquids bag, from carry-on baggage. Avoid over packing your carry-on bag. Consider checking bags vs. carry-on where feasible. Read the travel checklist.

  • Follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less and all bottles must fit in a single quart size plastic bag and be placed in a bin for carry-on baggage screening.

  • Call TSA Cares. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll free at 1-855-787-2227 with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint 72 hours prior to traveling.

  • Tweet @AskTSA. Unsure if an item is allowed through security? Issues receiving TSA PreCheck on your boarding pass? Get live assistance by tweeting your questions and comments to @AskTSA, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends/holidays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • Check the weather. Inclement weather can cause flight delays. Keep in mind the local weather forecast and check with your airline for the most up-to-date flight information.

Travel Checklist

Before Packing

  • Liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:
    • 3.4 ounces or less per container
    • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag (all liquids must fit in bag)
    • 1 bag per passenger
  • Review the prohibited items list for both carry-on and checked baggage.
  • If purchasing a baggage lock, be sure to look for those that are TSA recognized.
  • Tape a card with your name and contact information on your electronics.

When Packing

  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)

  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline.

  • All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.

  • Pack large electronics on top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility.

  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility.

  • If traveling with a pet, be sure to bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened.

Before Leaving for the Airport

  • Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.

  • Wear easily removable shoes.

  • Passengers with a disability or medical condition may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll free helpline at (855) 787-2227.

Before Entering the Checkpoint

  • Eligible passengers look for the TSA PreCheck lane for expedited screening at participating airports.

  • Have your ID and boarding pass out for inspection.

At the Checkpoint

  • Remove the 3-1-1 liquids bag and place it in the bin.

  • Ensure pockets are empty (keys, tissues, currency, wallets, cell phones, etc.) and remove bulky jewelry (valuable items can be placed in carry-on).

  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt.

  • Remove computers and large electronics from carry-on and place in the bin alone (video game consoles, remote control toys, etc.)

  • Remember to check the bins and collect all belongings after going through screening.