Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

In the TSA lane, agents are glistening — or glowering.

’Tis the season. If you want to get through security without slowing down the line, read on. With any luck — and the proper preparation — your checkpoint experience won’t dampen holiday spirits.

If you’re not enrolled in TSA PreCheck, check your boarding pass to see if you received a seeming gift from the TSA. Sometimes unenrolled people get to go through that quicker line anyway. If you are that lucky one, it will be noted on your boarding pass. Head straight to the PreCheck line.

Have your boarding pass and identification out, ready to hand to the agent.

Pack an organized bag. Cluttered bags, with chargers and other items strewn about, are difficult to read at the X-ray machine and can slow down TSA workers — and you.

Know the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage. Any liquids, aerosols, gels and creams, such as lotion, yogurt and cranberry sauce, are limited to 3.4 ounces or less per item, and all must fit into one quart-sized zip-top bag. Larger bottles of liquids are strictly for checked bags.

Unless you have TSA PreCheck, remove your shoes and put them on the conveyor belt to be X-rayed. (Slip-ons should be your go-to travel shoe.) Take off belts and jackets and place them in a bin for the X-ray treatment. Ditto coins, watches, computers and that clear zip-top bag of liquids.

Any body piercings, seen or unseen? Remove the metal parts, or you could set off the machine’s alarm and be subjected to additional screening.

Wrap gifts at your destination. If a gift package contains something that could be of concern, TSA will unwrap it for a closer look, whether it’s in your carry-on or a checked bag.

For more details, go to You can also reach out to TSA on the fly, so to speak, via Twitter @AskTSA or Facebook Messenger.


Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.