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Top 7 tips for smoother Airport Security checks

David Knockton / 14 August 2014 ( 06 June 2016 )

Airport security checks are one of the main causes of pre-holiday stress but it need not be such an awful experience if you plan ahead.

Aeroplane ascending against a blue sky.

With the ongoing threat of terrorism enhanced airport security checks now take longer and can be more invasive.

Arrive at the airport in plenty of time is the general message from the airlines as some airport security checks may be busier than others, or be unusually busy at unexpected times of the day.

Here are our seven top tips for smoother airport security checks.

1. Before you leave

From the moment you leave your front door make sure you are prepared for the most common causes of delay; road traffic or cancelled rail travel. Staying overnight close to the airport is a very sensible option, and there are some great deals available from airport hotels.

If driving, book your airport parking in advance and use a reputable company to avoid any issues when you arrive at the car park.

2. Check-in times

For long haul flights it is advisable to check-in at least three hours before your flight is due to leave, and for European and domestic flights two hours is normally sufficient.

3. Hand Luggage

If you are taking hand luggage, or are a single bag traveller, then be prepared to be a little longer at the airport security check than others. You also need to make sure your hand luggage is well within the size and weight guidelines as these do vary between airlines. 

Always check your airline's website before you leave for any further restrictions on the size of bags, what was acceptable on previous trips may not be allowed when you next travel.

4. Laptops, tablets and mobile devices

Laptops will be removed and screened separately to your bag. Tablet and mobile devices must be charged so that they can be switched on and checked.

5. Walking aids, wheelchairs and medicines

Walking aids and wheelchairs will be screened so prepare to be as comfortable, as you can be in these circumstances, if you have to have to be searched. 

Make sure you have all the correct medical certificates and authentications and you may be asked to taste the liquid as part of the checks. If in doubt telephone the airline prior to leaving your home to see what proof is required of your medical condition to ensure a speedy airport departure.

6. Liquids and duty free

In general liquids need to be in containers less than 100ml in size but before you leave for the airport check with the airline as to what is allowed through airport security checks. 

Liquid cosmetics, lotions, sprays and gels etc need to be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag with one bag per passenger, presented for examination and not packed. 

Duty free items must remain sealed and you should keep you receipts handy.

7. Banned items

There is an exhaustive list of banned items so check with the airline before you leave as these items will be confiscated, and not returned, at the airport security check. For example; scissors, cutlery, and flammable items etc.

To find out the latest and most up to date travel information you should always contact the airline in plenty of time before your departure date.

Going on holiday soon? Why not pre-book those essential travel extras now and take advantage of some great partner discounts.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.