Traveling this holiday season? Here’s how to avoid delays passing through TSA security

Starting Friday, TSA expects 30 million airline travelers to pass through airport security around the country during a 12-day period.

You do not want to get delayed at security and miss your flight, there are three things you can do to avoid it:

Arrive at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to departKnow what is in your bag before you line upHave your boarding pass out and ready to go

Once in the TSA security line, there are three reasons a traveler gets flagged and has to wait longer to pass through the line:

Oversized items in their carry-on bagShoesWeapons

The most common reason a passenger is diverted to a more detailed search of their carry-on luggage is an oversized item. For example, shampoo, toothpaste, face lotions and hair spray containers that are larger than the approved size limit are prohibited from being carried on a plan. “Those liquids that are over 3.4 ounces,” explained TSA spokesperson, Mark Howell. “Unless they are medically necessary, we’re allowing people to take 3.4 ounces in a one-quart size plastic bag and each passenger is allowed one of those,” he said.

Howell said place your travel-size lotions or liquids in the plastic bag, each passenger is allowed 1 bag of that size filled with as many items as you’d like, as long as the bag can close.

TSA said if it can be poured, spread or sprayed and is bigger than 3.4 ounces or 100 ml, it needs to be checked and not carried onto the plane.

There are “medically necessary’ exceptions to the size limit of carry-on liquids. They include:

Breast milkBaby formulaToddler drinksBaby food, including puree pouchesContact lens solutions* These items should be removed from your bag and placed in a separate bin when passing through TSA security.


Other items to remove from your bag and place in a separate bin include, any electronic larger than a cell phone.


Howell said shoes are another reason TSA security lines can back up.

Depending on your age, you need to remove your shoes and put them in a separate bin, along with any outerwear, like a jacket or sweatshirt, which should also be removed before being screened.


“If you are traveling in the United States no need to bring your prescription bottles with you,” said Howell. “You can pack loose pills in a pill organizer or pill box,” he said.


No weapons are allowed to be carried onto a plane.

If you are traveling with a gun, it must be checked in your luggage. You are also required to notify the airline during check-in that you have a gun in your luggage. It must be unloaded and placed in a locked, hard-sided case, according to TSA.

TSA Cares Program:

TSA Cares is a program offered to anyone who has medically necessary items that need to be carried on a plane and is also available for anyone who needs assistance passing through security.

“We ask that passengers give us a 72-hour heads up.” But, if you don’t have time to do that and you get to the airport, just let the person at the ticket and document checker station know that you need some special assistance and they’ll have one of the passenger support specialists come out and help you,” explained Mark Howell, TSA spokesperson.

To learn more about specific items allowed in your carry-on or for the phone number to call to use the TSA Cares program, click here.

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