Tips to Speed Your Tech Through TSA Checkpoints

Tips to Speed Your Tech Through TSA Checkpoints

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Taryn Williford
Nov 24, 2010

The TSA's been getting a bad rap lately for their, ahem—"hands on" screening procedures. But if you want to fly home this holiday season, you're going to need to make it through security. And if you want to get home fast, you're going to need to check out these tips.

The best way to breeze through airport security (and try to avoid the notorious pat down) is to arrive on time, be polite and, most of all, be prepared.

Since we know you're all techies and probably not going to go completely off-the-grid this holiday season, here's some tips for speeding through airport security when you're traveling with electronics:

  • Laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes need to be removed from your carry-on bag in most cases, so pack them to be easily accessible. But iPods, iPads and the 11" MacBook Air (or any laptop or netbook with a screen smaller than 12") can stay inside the bag (unless an agent asks you to take it out).
  • Alternatively, you can pack your laptop in a "checkpoint friendly" bag. There's no such thing as a "TSA approved bag" (It says on the TSA website that "TSA will not approve or endorse any bag design or manufacturer"), but any bag with a designated laptop-only section (without zippers or buttons on top of or underneath the laptop) that can lay flat on the X-ray belt should be good to go.
  • Electronics that stay stashed in your carry-on should be in a single layer, sandwiched between clothes. This is so security agents can get an unobstructed look at your tech through the x-ray machine.
  • Keep cords organized. Avoid being pulled out of line by keeping your power cords neat and tidy in your bag. Use something like the Cord Clip or Cord Wrap to Go, each featured in our 10 Cord Control Solutions for Under $10 roundup.
  • Don't wrap gifts. You're excited to give your nephew a new DSi, but if you wrap it before you leave, a TSA agent may ask you to unwrap it to inspect the package.
  • If you have any questions about what can and can't go through security? Download the My TSA app for your iOS device. Inside, you'll find features like wait estimates, delay listings and a "Can I Bring?" search feature (plus it's free!).
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