How to Dress for TSA to Avoid Waits

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Everyone hates anyone who holds up the line at airport security. If you don’t want to be that person that is causing other passengers to stand in line longer than necessary, you have to be aware of TSA rules and regulations on clothing so that you can dress for the flight accordingly.

By doing so, you can keep everyone behind you at airport security from feeling exasperated, and you can save yourself from unnecessary travel-related stress.

So, what are TSA rules and regulations on clothing?

When dressing for TSA, avoid wearing anything too loose or baggy as TSA officers may suspect the presence of prohibited items. It is also important to steer clear of accessories with metals that can set off the alarms. Shoes need to be easy to remove and slip on to avoid holding up the line.

Knowing which items you need to remove and which ones can stay in place is important if you don’t want to spend a lot of time at airport security.

It is also recommended to know which items in your carry-on should be taken out and placed in the bin. Fret not if you have very little to no idea of what they are.

Below we will discuss each one of them, so don’t stop reading now. Share this article on social media to let your family and friends know about TSA rules and regulations on clothing, especially those who cannot travel without looking trendy and carrying lots of things.

Items That You Need to Remove at Airport Security

When it comes to dressing up for a flight, it is not just various possible scenarios in the cabin that you should take into consideration.

It is also a must that you bear in mind the fact that you will go through airport security, which means that you will have to remove some of your garments and accessories. Dressing wisely is a definite must!

Let us take a look at the items that you have to momentarily part ways with at airport security to keep TSA officers from suspecting that you are up to something as well as to avoid annoying everyone on the line:

Shoes

It is important to wear comfortable shoes for your flight, especially if you will have to spend several hours thousands of feet in the air to get to your destination.

You should also put on shoes that can let you go through airport security in a breeze, thus keeping you from hearing grunts from the people behind you.

Opt for shoes that you can remove and slip on without trouble. This means that you should steer clear of shoes that have a lot of straps, knots, and laces that can keep you from placing your shoes in the bin quickly.

In other words, look for a different time to wear trendy shoes that can complicate your flight.

By the way, it is a good idea to wear shoes that go well with socks — you don’t want to end up barefoot on the cold airport floor that potentially harbors microbes that can cause all sorts of nasty skin infections and diseases!

Coat, jacket, hoodie, etc.

One of the things that you don’t want TSA officers to do is suspect that you are trying to sneak a prohibited item into the airplane.

It is because of this why you should try to avoid any outerwear that is too loose or baggy, like a coat, jacket, sweatshirt, parka, poncho, vest, and hoodie.

It doesn’t mean that you cannot wear any of them to your flight. As a matter of fact, wearing one can help save you from the freezing cabin temperatures.

However, you should remove your loose-fitting outerwear at airport security before proceeding through the body scanner or metal detector. Otherwise, you are likely to be asked by TSA officers to remove it as well as get a generous dose of a pat-down inspection.

To avoid unnecessary run-ins with TSA officers, remember to stay away from wearing loose dresses, flowy skirts, baggy pants and others that would allow criminals to keep prohibited items away from everyone’s view.

Belt

Primarily, a belt is worn to hold your pants or skirt up. However, it can also hold up the line at airport security if you wear the wrong kind and you forget to remove it immediately when it is your turn to be screened.

Most belts have buckles that are out of metal. A lot of trendy ones have decorative metallic elements, too. The problem with these belts is that they can set off the alarms, especially if they have enough metal.

Never walk through the metal detector without first removing your belt. Otherwise, you will surely make a lot of heads turn towards your direction, particularly the heads of TSA officers around.

The good news is that there is no need to remove your belt if it has a plastic, carbon fiber, or any non-metal buckle, as well as if it has no metal components.

If you want to breeze through airport security, most especially if you are notorious for being late for your flights, accessorize with a belt that is completely free of metal.

Wristwatch

Wristwatches these days tend to be made out of a wide variety of materials.

Naturally, if yours is completely made of metal or contains a lot of parts out of it, then you should remove and place it in the bin before you get your body scanned. Failure to remove it will cause the alarms to go off.

There is no need to remove wristwatches out of plastic, wood or any other non-metal material. This is true even if it has a few metal parts or decorative elements — the metal content is not enough to trigger the alarms.

Hat or cap

Although it is not going to set off the alarms, it is a good idea to remove your hat, cap, or any other head accessory or gear. The goal is to allow TSA officers as well as the cameras to have a clear view of your face.

In the past, TSA required all passengers to remove all headwear, including turbans.

However, it causes issues with some people, particularly those who wear turbans for cultural or religious purposes.

For them, turbans are considered as private pieces of clothing, and it is wrong to remove them in public, such as at airport security. The good news is that TSA changed its rules, thus allowing passengers to keep their turbans on.

However, if necessary, TSA officers may ask a passenger to remove his or her turban in private. But if your headgear is not a turban, stash it in the bin to show that you have nothing to hide, including your face most especially.

Sunglasses

It is perfectly fine to put on a pair of sunglasses while partaking in fun activities under the sun or taking selfies outdoors in the middle of the day. However, you should not do the same when it is your turn to be screened at airport security. It is for the same reason why you need to remove your hat or cap: to show your face.

What about regular glasses?

There is no TSA rule that says that you should remove regular glasses at airport security. But if you are not wearing them in your passport photo, it is a good idea to remove your glasses.

Keys and spare change

Because keys and spare change are out of metal, you should remove them from your pocket prior to going through airport security — they should go in the bin together with the rest of your items.

Because they are valuable, make sure that you keep an eye on your keys and spare change to save them from getting lost or stolen.

It is perfectly fine to leave your wallet in your pocket. However, you should place it in the bin if it has coins. Again, keep your peepers peeled for anyone who would be interested in stealing them.

Jewelry

Did you know that it’s not all the time that you should remove your jewelry at airport security? Not too many people are aware of this, and thus they often wind up taking more time going through screening than they should.

Earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, and other types of jewelry need not be placed in the bin before proceeding to the metal detector. Because they usually do not contain lots of metal, it is unlikely for them to set off the alarms.

However, it is a completely different story if you have chunky jewelry out of metal. You can rest assured that they have more than enough metal to cause the alarms to go off.

When flying, it is a good idea to skip wearing some of your most expensive pieces of jewelry, which are usually out of precious metals.

Not only will this save you from having to remove them prior to being screened by TSA officers, but also keep you from losing them by misplacing them or getting them stolen while traveling.

Definitely, wearing fake jewelry pieces out of plastic and other non-metal materials can make your trip go with as little hitch as possible. You will begin to appreciate the perks of doing so at airport security.

Piercings

Are you flying with a body piercing for the first time? Then you may be wondering whether or not you should remove your piercing to avoid causing a TSA officer to figure out the reason for your setting off the alarms.

Generally speaking, small body piercings do not contain enough metal to cause the metal detector to go wild. However, it is possible for the alarms to go off in the presence of large body piercings out of metal.

Here’s a tip: Before you head to airport security, step foot inside the airport bathroom and remove your body piercing just to be safe.

Hair accessories

Everyone knows that flying can be stressful. This is especially true during peak seasons when airports and airplanes are jam-packed with passengers.

For many women, knowing that they look their best can help make flying less stressful. Most of the time, they spend a lot of time making their hair a complete head-turner.

Unfortunately, if you consider your hair as your crowning glory, the use of bobby pins, metal clips, barrettes, and other hair accessories out of metal may cause the alarms to set off while you are getting screened.

According to the website of TSA itself, it is a good idea to avoid styling or accessorizing your hair in a way that involves the use of metal items. If you can’t help it, you have no choice but to remove and put them in the bin.

Worry not if having a bad hair day is not an option. That’s because you can always style and accessorize your hair to your heart’s content after going through airport security and before boarding the plane.

What You Have to Take Out of Your Bag

Aside from some of the items that you are wearing, there are also certain things in your carry-on that you have to take out when it is your time to be screened by TSA officers.

The good news is that there are not a lot of them. The bad news is that most of them are valuable, so you have to make sure that you keep an eye on them.

Keep on reading to know some of the things in your carry-on that you should take out and place in the bin to make your time at airport security go in a breeze and without a hitch.

Tablet and camera

In the past, there was no need to take electronic devices out of carry-ons. However, back in 2017, TSA decided to tighten security measures and required every gadget that is larger than a cell phone to be placed in the bin.

This means that your tablet, professional camera, and any other massive electronic device should be fished out of your carry-on.

Here’s a quick tip: make sure that your gadgets are fully charged before you head to the airport. If TSA officers want to inspect them closely and they cannot do so because they have no charge, they may confiscate them!

Laptop

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, a laptop can come in handy. However, it can also leave you holding up the line at airport security if you are not aware that it should be placed in the bin before you get scanned.

One of the reasons why laptops have to be taken out of carry-ons is that they are often obscured by the pockets in and around the bags in which they are placed.

This is when the benefit of placing your laptop in a bag with a pocket dedicated to it comes in. This type of bag doesn’t have pockets around it, thus eliminating the need to take the laptop out at airport security.

Chargers

If you only have a charger or two in your carry-on, there is no need to place it/them in the bin. However, it is a different story if you have tons of them in your bag for your various devices.

The presence of lots of cables and power bricks can clutter x-ray images, and TSA officers may ask you to take them out for a clearer picture.

Toiletries and other liquids

Small containers of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, hand and body lotion, toothpaste, and other toiletries need to be placed in a quart-sized bag.

This makes it trouble-free for them to be taken out of your carry-on at airport security. Yes, toiletries need to be placed in the bin when it is time for you to walk through the body scanner or metal detector.

Any type of liquid can mess with the x-ray images. Because of this, liquid items in your bag also need to be taken out to make sure that TSA officers can get an unobstructed view of the contents of your carry-on.

Medications

Whether prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), medications should be taken out of your bag if they come in liquid form.

The same is true for powdered ones because they, too, can get in the way of the x-rays, plus you don’t want them to be mistaken for illegal substances. Pills and tablets, on the other hand, can stay in the bag.

Food

Especially if you are about to embark on a long-haul flight, it is a smart move to have some snacks in your carry-on.

Do take note, however, that it is likely for them to be asked to be taken out of your bag at airport security.

Although it is true that not all foods can obstruct x-rays, it is a good idea to place every food product in your carry-on in the bin right away to prevent everyone behind you from getting annoyed.

Just Before You Get Dressed for TSA Checkup

If you want your trip to go without any trouble, consider dressing for your flight with TSA rules and regulations on clothing in mind.

Fortunately, there is no need to make a lot of sacrifices fashion-wise. As a matter of fact, there is no need to change your sense of style for TSA officials.

But if you do not want to be that one person who is holding up the long queue at airport security, it is a good idea to avoid wearing baggy clothes, accessorizing with a lot of metals, and sporting a pair of shoes that are difficult to remove and slip on.

Organizing your carry-on very well is important, too. Make sure that you place your gadgets, toiletries, medications, and food on the top of your bag or where they are easily accessible. Doing so allows you to easily fish them out, place them in the bin, and stash them back in your carry-on afterward.

Photo credit: ©canva.com/ALotOfPeople, ©canva.com/Chalabala, ©canva.com/DigitalVision

Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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