I have spent the past few weeks traveling the country non-stop. That means hours of my life wasted in the airport, many of those sitting in the security screening line on the way to my gate. tsa-500Despite all the videos, signs and screaming TSA employees there is apparently still some confusion about procedures at the security check point. For those of you who have difficulty I have compiled my own guide to getting through security quickly and not annoying your fellow passengers.

The Expert Lane

In most of the major airports there are special expert lanes designated for people that travel regularly. These lanes are designed for people that fly more than twice a month and are “experts” in TSA security procedures. If you don’t fly regularly or are traveling with children you should get in another lane with the proper designation.

Common Questions

Q : “This is my first time flying. Am I an expert?”

A : “No. Expert means you fly all the time.”

Q : “I am an expert but my 2 year old, 5 year old, 7 year old, wife, grandma (in a wheelchair) and dog are not. Should I get into the expert lane anyway?”

A : “No. While you are an expert you are traveling with your family. You should get in the family lane.”

Take off your shoes

Shoes are the things you wear on your feet to protect them and provide comfort. Shoes include sneakers, flip-flops, boots, sandals, pumps, clogs and variety of other styles. “Take off” refers to the act of removing your shoes from your feet.

Common Questions

Q : “I am a woman. Do I have to take my shoes off too?”

A : “Yes. Men and women are treated equally by TSA.”

Q : “I am wearing boots which makes it hard to take off my shoes. Do I still need to take them off?”

A : “Yes. Next time wear shoes that are easier to take off.”

Q : “Is unlacing my shoes the same as taking them off?”

A : “No. Unlacing them is just unlacing them.”

Q : “Are you sure flip flops are considered shoes?”

A : “Yes.”

Remove all metal from your body

Metal is a chemical element that is used in a variety of everyday objects. Common metals include silver, steel, iron, nickel, gold and zinc. Metal is typically hard and shiny. You probably have metal in your belt buckle, glasses, piercings and umbrella. You should remove all the metal you have on your body and place it in a bin to go through the X-Ray machine.

Common Questions

Q : “The change in my pocket is hard and shiny. Is it made of metal?”

A : “Yes. Change is metal and should be removed from your pocket.”

Q : “My necklace is made of metal. Is that still considered metal?”

A : “Yes.”

Discard Sharp Objects

Your are prohibited from carrying any sharp objects on to a plane. Sharp objects include box cutters, ice axes, meat cleavers, razor blades, sabers and swords. Sharp objects must be discarded (thrown away or mailed back home) in order to pass through security.

Common Questions

Q : “Can I bring my pocket knife on the plane.”

A : “No. A pocket knife is technically a knife.”

Q : “If they X-Ray my sword can I bring it on board.”

A : “No. It is still a sword.”

Q : “Is a spear gun considered a sharp object?”

A : “Yes. It is a spear… and a gun (see below).”

Discard Weapons and Self Defense Items

1091560Much like sharp objects, you are prohibited from carrying on weapons along with  martial arts and self defense items. These include guns, grenades, billy clubs, black jacks, brass knuckles, kubatons, mace, nunchakus, stun guns and throwing stars. If it could kill someone it is best to leave it at home.

Common Questions

Q : “I just bought these nunchakus, do I still have to throw them away?”

A : “Yes. It doesn’t matter how old they are.”

Q : “My gun is in a locked case. Can I bring it on board?”

A : “No. Cases can be opened.”

Q : “I am pretty sure that this grenade doesn’t have any explosives inside. Is that O.K.?”

A : “No.”

I hope that you have found this guide helpful. For more information please visit the TSA website. The frequent travelers of the world would appreciate it.

Ted Murphy

Ted Murphy

Ted Murphy is an American entrepreneur. He is currently the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of IZEA, a technology company that provides software for influencer marketing.


  • This is hysterical 🙂 Thanks for the share, this frequent flyer is cracking up.

  • Ted Murphy says:

    @Leslie Poston:
    Unfortunately I think the only people that will read this are frequent flyers.

  • Daniel Smith says:

    Ted this is perfect, maybe TSA should have you do an instructional video for this as well!

  • Shannon Palmer says:

    Thank you for putting the comments I’ve been compiling in my head for a later rant, in writing! Two more for your list:

    1. Remove computers and place on screening belt – Laying your bag or computer case is not good enough, you have to take it out, so keep it handy!

    2. Take offf jackets and sweaters. If it’s the only top you’re wearing then, no you don’t have to remove it, but otherwise put it on the belt. Yes, they will ask you repetatively to remove the layers, so put all the layers on the belt and layer up AFTER security.

  • ALL of the metal. ALL. Yes, ALL. No, not some…ALL. And the five water bottles you shoved down your pants.

  • Ted Murphy says:

    @Marcelle Turner:
    Oh don’t even get me started on things that are “liquids”. You mean water is a liquid?!?!

  • David Horne says:

    Q: My Laptop is in my attache. Do I have to remove it from the bag even if it is not on?

    A. Yes, it must be removed from the bag and placed in a plastic bin.

    Q: Do netbooks and Macs have to be placed in the bins too.

    A: Yes. they are notebook computers.

    Q: Should I go ahead and remove my items before I get to the scanner or wait until I get to the machine so that I can hold up the line?

    A: You should start before.

  • BenSpark says:

    Ted, Love the guide. I wrote a dumbass guide to air travel a while ago when I was in the ranks of the road warrior. It is at Scott’s Average Dude’s blog. You might like it. http://average-dudes.com/dumbasss-guide/the-dumbasss-guide-to-air-travel/

  • Tara says:

    I spoke to a TSA agent the other day about an idea to create a test for airport goers – he seemed all for it, so maybe the video is a good first step.

    The agent also explained that the rules are about to become even stricter due to some of the recent issues. I can’t wait to see what’s next…

    And no, you can not bring your full size shampoo, conditioner and perfume – I don’t care how expensive they were!

  • Jamie Brooks says:

    Hilarious! And so, so true.

  • Christine says:

    LOL! I gotta share this with my hubby – he flys all the time and has some of the same complaints 😉 I was, however, bummed when the TSA guy took my 12oz Country Bob’s sauce that I got at Izeafest. I think he just wanted it 😉

  • Jen says:

    Quite funny . . .and even expert travelers seem to have dumb moments. Had a stewardess in line behind be get busted for an 8 inch knife in her carry on. She protested that it was for her grapefruit. Not to stab annoying passengers or unruly children. No, no . . .for the grapefruit. She seemed a bit put out to lose it, but honestly lady, what did you expect?

  • craig says:

    Thought of this guide tonite as the woman in front of me in the security line – the one with the dangly earrings and multiple necklaces and numerous bracelets on each wrist – was puzzled that she couldn’t get thru the metal detector

  • Elizabeth says:

    This is hilarious! I just saw “Up in the Air” and there’s a really funny scene where George Clooney’s character explains the best and fastest way to get through security.

    Your post reminded me of that SNL skit where it’s a commercial for Steve Martin’s book “Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford”.

    Wife: OK, what if I want something but I don’t have any money?
    Salesman: You don’t buy it.
    Husband: Let’s say, I don’t have enough money to buy something. Should I buy it anyway?
    Salesman: No.


  • […] Ted’s Airport Security Guide: No, you can’t bring your nunchakus on the plane. No, not even if they’re brand new. Yes, they mean it. No, you can’t bring the grenade either.  I’m about to get on a plane in a few days. I’m mentally preparing myself for the stupid people now. […]

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