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The Solo Traveler Blog

Flying this Holiday Season? 24 Tips to Get through Security Fast

solo singles holiday

The Christmas market in Vienna.

The Christmas rush.

If you travel during the holiday season the term takes on a whole new meaning.

Airports are crowded. Officials are stressed. People are tired.

CATSA, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, want to make this holiday season a little less stressful for you so they got in touch and asked me to help get the message out. Here are some of their tips mixed with my philosophy of packing and travel to help you sail through security at the airport.

24 tips to help you sail through security.

  1. Packing light and liquids. As regular readers know, I travel with a carry-on and a small day-pack or large purse. So…
    • All liquids, gels and aerosols that you plan to take on the plane must be in containers of 100mL or less.
    • All the containers must then be packed together in a clear, resealable 1L plastic bag.
    • When packing, place this plastic bag on top of your clothes at the top of your carry-on and zip up your bag with the zipper pulls at the top. This way, at security all you have to do is unzip your bag a bit and slip out the plastic bag containing the liquids.
    • If you check a bag, place all your liquids in your checked baggage in which case you don’t have to worry about the 100ml limitation.
  2. Bearing gifts? If you plan to take presents in your carry-on, don’t wrap them until you reach your destination.
  3. Don’t play games. Take note of items that are not allowed on a plane. You can check the list here. Also…
    • Don’t take toys that happen to look like any forbidden items.
    • Don’t joke around and use words like bomb or terrorist when going through any official border process.
  4. Plan for a smooth take-off at security. On your travel day…
    • Avoid wearing clothing with metal buttons and snaps that will sound the metal-detector alarm.
    • Dress comfortably with easy-to-remove outwear, belts and shoes. The latter is particularly helpful If you’re flying to or through the US as you’ll have to remove your shoes at security.
    • Carry as little as possible in your pockets.
    • Make sure that sharp tools are 6cm or less if you’re going to take them through security. Longer and they must go in checked baggage.
    • Have a specific place on your person for your passport that is easy and accessible. You will have to show it many times but you don’t want to put it down so that it gets lost. Always return it to the same place.
  5. Negotiating the security process. Before you enter the security line, Unlock your carry-on and drink any liquids you have. Once you get to security…
    • Remove everything from your pockets and put the contents in a bin.
    • Remove your computer and plastic bag of liquids and put it in a bin – it can be the same bin.
    • Place your purse, hat, scarf and jacket in a bin. You may have to put a sweater in the bin as well so dress appropriately.
    • Place your day-pack and/or carry-on on the belt itself.
    • Stand in line in front of the metal detector and wait to be waved through.
    • Pick up your things at the other end. And make sure you have everything before you leave the area.
  6. If your bags must be checked further. If they have questions about what is in your bag…
    • Allow the officer to open your bag themselves. They don’t want you to do it for them.
    • And, of course, be patient and cooperate, even if you’re in a rush. Hurrying them will only slow things down more.
  7. In the case of additional screening. If you don’t pass through the metal detector with success…
    • You have the option of a full-body scan or a physical search.
    • You can always request a search in private and can also request that a witness observe the search.
    • You have the right to refuse to be screened, but you will not be allowed past the security checkpoint if you do so.

Happy Holidays


Canadian Air Transport Security Authority have sponsored this post.

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  • Agness

    Great tips Janice. I know how painful it might be to get through the security check when travelling back home for Christmas. I always try not to pack too many things and forbidden items.

  • Ella

    Great advice, it’s a hectic time to travel!

    Ella | 

  • Travelbug1

    Well I mostly have checked luggage and carry very little in the carry on (camera, extra undergarments and a shirt any case suitcase gets lost). I’ve only just did the carry on twice. Was fine BUT my holidays mostly cruises now (I’ve spoiled myself) or a small tour group so just a carry on won’t do.

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

I'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>

Tracey Nesbitt I’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

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