5 travel packing tips for airport security

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The last thing you or any other traveller wants to deal with are long queues at airport security – and you certainly don’t want to be the centre of attention when it comes to your luggage holding things up. And while queues are sometimes unavoidable – peak times, for example, invariably means longer waiting times – every little helps. So, if you and others can help cut down on unnecessary delays during the airport screening process, well, everyone wins. With that in mind we’ve put together five travel packing tips to help you get through security swiftly.

1. Know what you can pack for hold and cabin luggage

In general, if you’re travelling with both hold/checked-in luggage and cabin/carry-on luggage, ensure that the latter contains just absolute essentials. Of course, if you’re only carrying hand luggage, then pack accordingly. You’ll have to, for example, have travel-sized toiletries – usually 100 millilitres or less – packed in a see-through plastic bag.

Knowing what you can and can’t pack for both types of luggage – as well as best practice – is essential if you want to get through security quickly. For example, while you can carry food or powders in your hand luggage, it’s advisable to pack these in your hold luggage as they can easily be mistaken for suspicious items.

2. Organise your luggage

Some people are organised, others are not – and that’s quite alright. However, when it comes to luggage and airport security, it does pay to be organised. It’s a simple science, really. An x-ray machine can easily identify different items that are distinct from one another; less so when it’s a tangled mess.

So, do your best Marie Kondo and save yourself and other passengers a lot of time that can be better spent doing more interesting things like enjoying a long airport lunch or kicking off your holiday reading with a relaxing cup of tea or coffee.

3. Charge up those electronics

In a digital age, it’s hard to get away from electronics, irrespective of whether we’re travelling for business or leisure. Smartphones, tablets and laptops, for example, have become so fundamental to how we live and interact that they’re effectively extensions of ourselves – forget a device and panic can ensue.

So, now that we’ve clarified that packing electronics is going to be a matter of fact for most travellers, here’s how to get through security quickly. One, make sure all devices are fully charged – airport security can, for example, request for devices to be switched on. If they can’t, the devices will not be allowed onto a plane. Two, when going through security, make sure you take all electronic equipment out of your hand luggage and place it in a separate tray.

4. Savvy up on personal items

When it comes to personal items, you’d be surprised at what some travellers might pack, unaware of some of the restrictions that might apply. Safety matches? Yes actually, you can pack them onto both hold and hand luggage (although it’s sometimes banned from hold luggage). Strike anywhere matches? That’s a resolute no. Fireworks? That’s a definitive no. Corkscrew? In hold, yes; in hand, no.

Elsewhere, you can pack in both checked-in and cabin luggage, fixed-cartridge razor blades (disposable razor), umbrellas, tweezers, small scissors (blades no longer than 6cm) and, among other things – like sewing and knitting needles – contact lens solution.

5. Be prepared with your medicines and medical equipment

When it comes to packing essential medicines and medical equipment, it’s vital you plan in advance. For example, it’s important to have with you either a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor to confirm that the medicine is yours.

In your cabin luggage, you can bring onboard medicines that are under 100ml, including tablets, capsules and liquids. Some airports may be flexible. For example, London City Airport does allow medicines over that amount, so long as it’s supported with appropriate documentation. When it comes to medical equipment, hypodermic syringes and inhalers are allowed. With more specific equipment, like oxygen cylinders, you’ll have to check with your airport/airline what their policies are.

New social distancing guidance from the Department for Transport, effective from June 2020

Please be prepared to remove face masks and coverings if requested to do so by Security Officers. Some larger face masks or respirators may require screening, advice for which will be given on arrival in the Security area.

We hope you’ve found that useful. And while the above shines light on a lot, there’s so much more to be aware of. For more information on what you can or can’t pack, check out our detailed guide to security and baggage. It covers in-depth everything from liquids, dangerous goods and work tools to baby food, sports equipment and personal items.

You can also find out more from GOV.UK here.