5 Airport Security Mistakes That Are Slowing You Down

Let's just be honest: No passenger trying to make their flight enjoys going through airport security. The lines are long, those metal detectors and full body scanners are pretty intimidating, and everyone from fellow passengers to airport security staff just seems to be in a foul mood. If you can already feel your blood pressure rising just thinking about it, you're not alone. Entire Reddit threads are dedicated to the stress that many people feel passing through security, with one Redditor summarizing the feeling perfectly: "Do I know all the rules? Will they apply them reasonably? Will I answer correctly if they ask me a question? Did I empty out my suitcase before I packed it? Is deodorant a solid, gel, or liquid? Does my curling iron look like a weapon?" The anxiety is real.


One major mistake is making off-color jokes. This isn't the time to try out your amateur comedy routine, so don't joke about bombs or firearms. Safety and security advisor Phillip Farina told Reader's Digest, "While we do have freedom of speech in the United States, any mention of these items while in the airport or security lines can get you pulled and questioned" (via Business Insider). Making this mistake, among others, could be slowing you down at airport security, sparking the ire of not just security staff, but those in line behind you. Here are other airport security mistakes that could end up with you being detained or missing your flight. 

Don't carry prohibited items through airport security

TSA's Federal Security Director at John F. Kennedy Airport, John Essig, spoke with The UK Sun and revealed the biggest mistake he sees passengers making when it comes to packing prohibited items in their carry-ons. "We are seeing a lot of travelers arrive at our checkpoints with beverages and a variety of knives," he told the outlet. 


This is your final reminder, folks: Liquids must be under 3.4 ounces (or 100 milliliters when you're abroad) and must fit inside a clear baggie. If you neglect this rule, those in line behind you get pretty miffed. The Mirror reported on a Skyscanner survey that found 27% of respondents are mega-miffed by passengers who don't know the liquid restrictions. 

When it comes to the point on knives, that may sound like a no-brainer, but it's a more common mistake than you think. Forbes reported that the TSA issued more than $20 million in weapons fines in just 2022, and each fine clocks in at around $1,500!

So how can you be certain you don't have random knives or liquids in your bag? That leads us to the next mistake: not checking your carry-on bag before you pack it up. The UK Sun reported that the TSA's "Know Before You Go Campaign" involves reminding passengers to completely empty out their bags, even small side pockets, before they pack so they know there's nothing forbidden hidden inside, just waiting to get them in trouble. 


Don't argue with airport security

Travel writer and photographer Ned S. Levi writes in Travelers United that arguing with airport security is the best way to get pulled out of line and detained, stating, "The odds of you winning an argument with government agents anywhere, including airport security, are slim. Even when you're right." He then recounts how being kind and patient with security over a discrepancy about his liquids got him through with ease, whereas another passenger got aggressive, causing security to call the police! That passenger, he says, missed their flight as a result. Business Insider reports that arguing with security can mean you're taken to secondary inspection or barred from flying.


The final mistake might surprise you: Levi writes in Travelers United that making sure your passport isn't expired is just common sense, but some passengers have held up security lines by not double-checking before they fly. Related to that, 24% of survey respondents reported that "not having passports or boarding passes to hand and holding up the queue" was a major annoyance, via The Mirror.