It’s no fun being stuck on an endless TSA security line because a newbie in front of you has to practically disrobe or sets off the metal detector. Here are five things to avoid wearing so you aren’t that person.
1. Studded materials. Tiny rivets on classic-style jeans are okay, but high-fashion items, polka-dotted with metal spikes are a no-no. Even when they’re removed and placed in a bin, they will prompt a slower, closer look by the TSA agent on X-ray duty. Other troublemakers: cargo pants, whose pocket snaps often raise flags, and some underwire bras, which can set off the metal detector.
2. Tight, synthetic fabrics. Spandex restricts blood flow at sea level, and it’s worse at 35,000 feet, so leave the skinny jeans and Spanx in the carry-on. The only exception is compression socks to help prevent DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) in your legs. Also, natural fibers like cotton and wool give your skin more breathing room. And while comfortable is the operative word, wearing super baggy or loose-fitting items might flag you as hiding something prohibited, so be cautious. Religious wear has its own TSA rules.
3. Complicated shoes and boots. If you can’t get them off easily and back on again at the other end of the TSA line, re-think your footwear. Non-complicated shoes are a bonus during the flight, too, in case you have to remove them to comfort your swelling feet. Since terminal floors may not get washed often, leave the flip-flops for the beach. Socks or footlets will prevent you from absorbing the toe fuzz from the barefoot passengers who preceded you through the body scanner, and they’ll help keep your feet warm in-flight. Plus, if there’s an emergency, wouldn’t you want your toes protected?
4. Body jewelry and expensive jewelry. If you can’t remove the piercings on your private parts before your meet and greet with the TSA, you can request a private screening to avoid a public pat-down. Put expensive jewelry, watches, and your cellphone inside your carry-on. Avoid dumping valuables into a plastic bin where they’re accessible to passengers ahead of you who have cleared security while you’re waiting on the “other” side behind a problem passenger or a TSA shift change.
5. Perfume and cologne. Odors intensify in-flight where you’re packed in close quarters and the same stale air is re-circulated for up to 12 hours. Avoid wearing industrial strength cologne or after-shave, including the free squirts at the Duty Free shop. But we do recommend wearing deodorant. Also, try to save a clean outfit for the trip home, so you don’t have to resort to perfume cover-ups. And breath mints are always a nice touch.