Tips on how to clear airport security quickly

There is nothing worse than squeaking through airport security by the skin of your teeth only to find a huge lineup at the coffee shop and your name being paged as your flight is about to depart. There are lots of ways to avoid this, and one of them is getting prepared ahead of your flight.

Figuring out what you can and cannot bring on a plane while you pack can help minimize the time you’ll spend with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA). If you’ve been asking yourself “Can I bring food through airport security?” or “Can I take chargers through airport security?" check CATSA's site to know what to bring in your carry-on and what to put in checked bags.

Prescription medication is essential for any trip, short or long, and critical for optimal health. There are several instances where liquids will be allowed including liquid prescription and non-prescription medicines, such as homoeopathic products, pain relieving medication, cough syrup, decongestant spray, gel-based nutritional supplements, saline solution and eye care products. People with medical conditions can bring juice and gels, and CPAP machines are exempt from liquid restrictions. Baby formula is also exempt (though travelling with a baby is a whole other story!). COVID-19 test kits are permitted without restrictions in carry-on or checked baggage.

It is recommended to  check the list of liquids, non-solid food and personal items known as liquids, aerosols, and gels, before you leave to the airport. This will help you plan how much to take on your trip and learn how to transport the item.

If you are travelling domestically and have Canadian identification, you may bring any identification issued by a Canadian federal, provincial or territorial government that includes a photo, full name, and date of birth. If you don’t have a photo ID, you may use two pieces of identification with at least one showing your full name and date of birth.

If you don't have Canadian ID, you can use a passport, NEXUS card, Permanent Resident card, or Enhanced Driver's License.

When travelling abroad, you must have a Canadian passport, a passport from your home country, or a NEXUS card. 

Part of being prepared and on time for your plane is knowing what will happen during security screening.

When you are entering the security area, always have your boarding pass and other travel documents ready and accessible. For true rock star status, enroll in an approved trusted traveller program like Nexus. This gives you CATSA pre-approved status which means that you can go through the shorter screening process on the way out and often helps you upon arrival when you can breeze through customs with a quick retina scan.

Whether you have opted into the Nexus program or not you’ll be required to place your personal items in bins. Remember to dress for security success to avoid setting off the metal detector at the entrance:

  • Wear easy-to-remove outerwear, jackets, belts and slip-on shoes, not lace-ups.
  • Limit jewelry to small earrings, watches, wedding bands/engagement rings, eyeglasses.
  • Wear clothing without snaps, metal buttons or studs.
  • Wear shoes without metal arches, buckles, steel-toes or shanks.
  • Avoid wearing belts with large metal buckles.
  • Remove hidden body piercings before you fly.

CATSA also features a helpful four-step process on what goes in the bin at airport security.

CATSA encourages passengers to arrive two hours in advance for domestic flights and three hours in advance for US and international flights.

It is also recommended to check current wait times for the city you are departing from to ensure that you are aware of any major delays.

Remember that going through the screening process of an airport can make anyone tired, anxious and frustrated. Be cooperative and patient with the CATSA officers and other international airport security officers - they are working hard to keep you and others safe.

Most importantly: be organized and prepared. A half-hour of prep the night before you fly will pay off in spades at the gate. 

While travel insurance does not cover missed flights if you checked-in too late, it can help with cancelled or delayed flights due to a covered reason stated in your policy. Learn more about the benefits we offer should you find yourself in this situation.  

Please note that travel insurance does not cover everything, we advise you to read the terms and conditions of your policy or contact us before your trip if you have any questions. We provide 24/7 assistance all over the world.


Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.

Travel protected with Allianz Global Assistance
Or call us at 1-844-310-1578 
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