Airport Security Checkpoint
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Remove All Items From Your Pockets BEFORE Arriving At the Airport Security Checkpoint

Running on empty — for only a few minutes.

People are once again traveling in droves — seemingly with a vengeance — since the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic was officially declared by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 11, 2020; but many of them apparently either forgot how to travel as efficiently as possible or did not even know how to do so in the first place…

Stupid Tip of the Day: Remove All Items From Your Pockets BEFORE Arriving At the Airport Security Checkpoint

Airport Security Checkpoint
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

…and one of the things many travelers do is wait until they arrive at the security checkpoint at the airport before they first start removing items from their pockets, undoing their belts and jewelry which may contain metal, taking footwear off of their feet, and ensuring that their liquids and gels are placed in a bin.

Watching this process that resulted from a lack of preparation is almost a comedy of errors that is somewhat entertaining, as agents of the Transportation Security Administration loudly and repeatedly bark orders at the suddenly befuddled passengers who seem to have momentarily lost any and all vestiges of common sense and comprehension — as though they were deer in headlights — and thus leading to the queue being either unnecessarily delayed or stalled.

The Transportation Security Administration could probably fund itself by recording these interactions at the security checkpoint at the airport and either sell them to a television network as a series of programs or post them on monetized social media as entertainment — but I digress.

Airport Security Checkpoint
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Significant amounts of time can be saved for all travelers when they remove all items from their pockets prior to arriving at the security checkpoint at the airport. The queues would be shorter in length and consume less time overall.

This is not exactly a difficult decision which involves a significant amount of risk. While you are on the shuttle bus from the airport parking lot on your way to the terminal — or as you sit in a taxi cab or the car of the ride-sharing service on your way to the airport — transfer the belongings in your pockets into a secure side pocket of the bag which you have with you and plan to carry aboard the airplane with you. Remove your belt and any items of jewelry and place them in the same pocket in your bag.

Placing items in a pocket of a bag is more secure than placing them in an open dish by themselves — especially if they are of any value; and especially if you are momentarily separated enough from them that you cannot recover them if someone decides to take a second and quickly abscond with them in a way which no one else would notice.

If your bag is in the trunk of the vehicle which is transporting you to the airport, you can perform the transfer in the terminal — perhaps while you wait in the line for the security checkpoint, if you are nimble enough…

…and wearing delicate clothing or expensive jewelry through a security checkpoint at the airport may not exactly be the best idea — especially if you are ordered to remove them for whatever reason.

Final Boarding Call

Airport Security Checkpoint
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

This article is actually more of a reminder and clarification of this article which was originally written and published on Thursday, June 22, 2017 — especially as I have witnessed the removal of items by many fellow passengers at the very last minute at security checkpoints at airports; and especially as this message from the official Twitter account of the Transportation Security Administration was recently released:

Setting aside anomalies and exceptions which are indicative of the rules of trusted traveler programs — such as TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry; and even then, passengers still automatically remove their footwear from their feet and do other odd things — my personal rule is to simply empty my pockets completely, with my passport or driver’s license and boarding pass as the only exceptions. Tissues, credit cards, currency, keys, and anything else in my pockets on my person go into a zippered pocket of my bag until after it passes through the airport security checkpoint.

I once had a small wad of tissues in my jeans pocket catch the attention of one agent of the Transportation Security Administration. He saved the world from certain doom that day when he had me remove said wad of tissues from my pocket and pat down only that area of my body. Since that experience, anything that happens to be defined as matter in physics is removed from my pockets. I can spare the few extra seconds to remove the additional items from my pockets and return them after I have successfully been processed through the security checkpoint, as it saves time in the long run and reduces the chance of a time-consuming and potentially invasive “pat-down”…

…but then again — oddly enough — I have been able to repeatedly get plastic cups full of real Kosher delicatessen mustard through security checkpoints at airports without a problem. That success rate is still at 100 percent. I suppose that the mustard is so dense that it perhaps is not classified as a liquid? I have no idea.

Do not be the person who unnecessarily holds up the line because you failed to properly prepare yourself for the airport security checkpoint experience. Travel in general is already stressful for many people. Please ensure that you are ready to go through the checkpoint when you arrive and not when you are the next person to be scanned, as the main point is to save yourself — and your fellow travelers — time and effort in general.

All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

  1. The mustard is a “spreadable” item, so it is a liquid. Sorry for this party-pooper update – the other day I was reading an article about bringing Holiday foods through carry on, so again I apologize.

    1. If mustard is considered a liquid, M, then why was I never alerted about it by anyone at the Transportation Security Administration?

      I hope I never do get alerted about it. I prefer real delicatessen mustard with my pastrami sandwiches…

      …and no need to apologize.

  2. Sorry,your “one fits all” article does not fit all. I do empty my pockets of all articles and place them in my carry-on prior to screening. But keeping cash, you cannot when the full body scan is deployed. And it becomes a crowd of people at the exit of the carry-on scan…all attempting to rcover those valuable electronics. In the meantime, for me, holding up my pants. The carry on is already stuffed with cords,adaptors, folders, etc. Pre withdrawing the belt??..I once removed my belt in the line. My pants began to immediately descend. In that full body contraption requiring hands held high, was one of the most agonizing moments of my life. My grandmother’s admonishment flashed in my mind…”Be sure to wear presentable underwear. You may be in an accident ” Dealing with shoes, computers, tablets that have to be removed. If I determine I am delaying people behind me, I tell them to go ahead of me. Plus, my mindset:It’s their (TSA) process, I am not going to be hurried or become agitated.

    1. I completely agree with you about the delays in recovering removed items after being screened at the security checkpoint, Firstlast — and sometimes those delays are caused by the same people who decide at the last minute to do what needs to be done before being screened so that they do not alert the machine or an agent of the Transportation Security Administration…

      …and some of them cause alerts anyway. They hold everyone else up in line.

      Thank you for imparting your experience with removing your belt early. That had to be humiliating; and I am sorry that you had to experience that…

      …but you have to admit that that is a good story about which I hope that one day you will be able to laugh…

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