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Tim Leffel

Professional Travel Expert

Speedy Air Security

The airport security gauntlet. It can be the most daunting and frustrating part of any vacation or business trip. All the fumbling, undressing, and liquid separating can get anyone flustered. If you’re in a hurry, it’s downright maddening.

There are plenty of ways to ease the pain, however. Not long after the TSA took over and stepped up security measures, a few innovative companies launched products to make it easier. After the liquids ban went into effect preventing carry-ons over three ounces, a range of other products arrived to help us deal with the new hurdle. Until another rule gets piled on top of those, the following items will help you do three things:

- Cut down on the amount of metal on your body
- Help you keep everything accessible and organized
- Make it easy to meet the 3-1-1 ban on carrying large liquids aboard

Pack the items you like best and remember to dress for the airport. That means no clunky metal jewelry, shoes that slip on and off easily, and a bag with a pocket to hold your mobile phone and keys.

Best Fly Through Airport Security Items by Tim Leffel

The Best You Can Get

  • Reversible No-metal Leather Belt from Magellan’s

    Tim says: This reversible unisex travel belt solves a lot of problems at once, but the main one is that it allows you to avoid the strip tease act of undressing and dressing each time you go through a security checkpoint. There is no metal to set off the alarm.

    This is no cheap-looking belt to wear on a hiking trip, however. The plastic buckle is covered in leather and with both brown and black options, this may be the only belt you need to pack. It comes in four sizes and weighs three ounces.

    • No metal buckle, so no removal at security
    • Reversible brown and black
    • Flexible enough for business or casual
  • Leather Pre-Board Organizer from TravelSmith

    Tim says: This handy pre-board organizer from TravelSmith is a cut above most, with a leather pouch and strap keeping it from looking like your average convention lanyard. It allows you to forget worrying about where your ID and boarding pass are as you have to show both multiple times to security personnel and gate agents. With key documents in this organizer slung around your neck, your hands are free to grab coffee, buy a magazine, or pick up your shoes and bag in a jiffy after going through the security gauntlet.

    • Have your ID ready at all times
    • Keeps your boarding pass handy
    • Keeps your hands free for shoe removal, grabbing bags
  • 3-1-1 Travel Clear Bag System

    Tim says: There are lots of small-bottle sets out there containing specific product lines, but this one goes the neutral approach and is far better made than the usual flimsy affairs. You fill the pump bottles up with your favorite shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or body gel and label them with the enclosed stickers. The five or six bottles (depending on model) come in different sizes, but even the largest ones come in well under the TSA-mandated maximum and are labeled with the maximum capacity. They zip up in a clear case that then attaches to the outside of any bag for easy access by security agents.

    The bag itself is the right one-quart size, with clear plastic to view the contents. The bottles are sleek and attractive, with construction that feels built to last instead of disposable.

    • Brand-neutral: pack your favorites
    • Pump mechanism prevents leaks
    • Easily attaches to the outside of bags for inspection
  • Minimus Carry-on Caddy

    Tim says: The perfect size for a long weekend, this Carry-on Caddy is pre-stocked with popular name-brand items from the Minimus stash, like Colgate toothpaste and Scope mouthwash. It comes in male or female versions, or you can get an all-organic collection in citrus or lavender.

    Whichever products are in it, the small black nylon bag is the same. It is rugged and the flap closes up with Velcro. The whole thing then attaches to any strap or handle on your carry-on bag with a carbiner, which means it’s ready and available for TSA inspection at security—without anyone needing to zip open your bag.

    • Small bag loaded with trial-sized popular brands
    • Pre-packed for immediate departure
    • Carrying case clasps to bag for inspection
  • Scanner Bag from Gadget Duck

    Tim says: The Scanner Bag is an innovative product that helps you keep all your loose items organized so you can whip through security without putting anything besides your shoes into a plastic bin. Unfolded, it offers mesh pockets for your cell phone, keys, watch, jewelry, MP3 player, and whatever other items can’t go through the metal detector. Folded up, it looks like an oversized luggage tag attached to your bag.

    There is also a spot inside the bag where you can insert a business card for identification, but it is not showing when the item is folded up. In short, this is a catch-all for all the items you usually have to unload and reload, saving you a lot of time and hassle.

    • Holds all your loose items in one place
    • Attaches to your carry-on bag
    • Folds up into a small size

You will be happy with any of these

  • Travel Sheets from Travelon

    Tim says: There’s one easy way to deal with the liquid ban and pack light at the same time: don’t carry liquid at all. These innovative sheets, when combined with water in the shower or sink, will lather up and perform as well as their liquid counterparts. The shampoo ones are especially good for a quick weekend trip and the laundry soap sheets help you pack lighter by enabling a quick sink wash to extend the wardrobe. Sheets are also available as shave cream, body wash, conditioner, or hand soap. They are sold in packs of 50 in a pocket-sized waterproof plastic container.

    • Gets around 3-1-1 rules by avoiding liquids
    • Super light for keeping baggage weight down
    • Easily fits into any space with no spillage risk
  • Pacsafe MetroSafe 200 Travel Bag

    Tim says: If you don’t need to travel with a laptop, this is the best all-purpose carry-on tote you could take anywhere. It has plenty of pockets for storing everything you need to shed for security checkpoints, plus room for all the other reading materials and accessories you need for a long flight. Upon arrival, it becomes the safest daypack you could ask for, with a hidden buckle to secure it to your clothing, slash proof straps to prevent a grab-and-go, and extra reinforcements to deter pickpockets. The MetroSafe 200 comes in three color options.

    • One bag for the airport and the destination
    • Multiple pockets for gadgets and metal items
    • Ultimate theft proof features for sightseeing after arrival
  • TSA-approved Combo Locks

    Tim says: While these TSA-approved luggage locks are most often used with checked luggage, they are also the safest choice if you want to lock your carry-on luggage. In the event that you are separated from your bag in the screening process, these locks can be opened by TSA personnel. They come in multiple colors and you set the combination yourself.

    • Keep your carry-on secure in transit
    • Contents can be inspected by TSA without breaking a lock
    • Some retailers (such as Magellan’s) will replace the locks if a TSA agent cuts them open
  • Heys TravelMate Organizer Bag

    Tim says: The TravelMate Organizer from Heys delivers a lot of function in one item. The main bag goes over your shoulder, allowing hands-free movement in the airport, while a special zipper flap deters pickpockets. Meanwhile, a separate passport pouch with a neck strap allows you to keep ID and boarding pass in easy reach. There are plenty of pockets for all the metal gadgets and keys you have to have to put through the x-ray machine and the bag even comes with a bonus mini LED Flashlight and mini mirror. An expandable pocket holds a water bottle, so this works as a great daypack after arrival. The TravelMate comes in a dizzying range of colors at the low end for rip-stop polyester, or in seven leather shades for the TravelMate XL.

    • Combination travel bag and passport neck strap case
    • Multiple pockets and expandable storage areas
    • A wide variety of styles and colors
  • Meridian Accessories Zip Travel Case from Tumi

    Tim says: This travel case organizer from Tumi does not offer the hands-free convenience of one with a neck strap, but it is much more discreet and stylish. The leather case does have a wrist strap and it opens up flat after being unzipped. It has a clear pocket for your driver’s license, twelve credit card slots, space to stick in a passport, and a penholder. An outside zippered pocket holds loose change or a boarding pass. Since it comes with a fancy gift box, this one would be a great gift for a traveling friend or spouse.

    • Keeps key documents and ID in one place
    • Quality leather construction
    • Looks elegant and stylish

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