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 only one of them is leaving for the airport earlier.

You rarely see a seasoned traveller hopping around in their bare feet while their extra-large latte is being confiscated. Travel veterans breeze through security because they know the drill and are always well prepared. They know which electronics will need powering up and what items are never allowed. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has a very clear list of what you can and cannot bring on to a flight and good information on what and how to put your items in to the bins.

Be realistic and smart when you are packing your carry-on. Are you really going to read three books? Probably not. Try to travel light—it will get you through airport security that much more quickly.

Seriously consider checking your larger luggage and just bringing essentials on board the plane. It takes time for security officers to make sure a jam-packed, cluttered, overstuffed bag is safe. And the more time it takes to screen your bag, the longer you—and everyone behind you—are stuck in line. And, with so many people trying to cram all their luggage into carry-ons to avoid a small checked luggage fee, you don’t want to block the aisle while you frantically try to stuff a suitcase into an overhead bin.

If you are running late, either from traffic en route to the airport or a delayed travel connection, the better organized you are the more likely you will be to make your flight. And, even if you are in a time crunch, always take a moment to confirm that you haven’t left anything behind at the security checkpoint. Commonly forgotten items include eyewear, keys, belts and identification. It’s pretty awful to arrive at your gate only to realize that you left your passport at security. Make sure you have yours!

When you are entering the security area, always have your boarding pass and other travel documents ready and accessible. For true rock star status, enrol 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.

To avoid setting off the alarm at the walk-through metal detector, bear the following in mind and dress for security success:

  • 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.
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. Juice or gels are allowed if you need them for diabetic or other medical conditions and the distilled water needed to operate Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are exempt from liquid restrictions. Baby formula is also exempt (though travelling with a baby is a whole other story!).
You won’t be the only one running late. Your fellow travellers are also tired, anxious and hungry. Use your Allianz TripWise app to keep track of your flight status, and stay on track to get to the airport with as much time to spare as possible, even if the flight status shows “delayed.”. If you miss your flight because you didn’t leave enough time you most likely won’t be covered by travel insurance. 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. Safe travels!
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