Shoes and belts first, bags last.

In addition to traveling often for this blog/leisure, I’ve spent the past month or so covering Donald Trump rallies for my day job as a BuzzFeed News reporter. It’s a fascinating experience, and one that has required a lot of flying; In recent days I’ve been to Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, and Georgia. (Utah and New York were not for Trump rallies.)

And all of this flying has confirmed one thing to me: there is a correct way to put your stuff through the airport metal detector. This is that way:


The point here is to be efficient and save time. So, the first things you should put through X-ray machine are any items of clothing (belts, shoes, jackets) you had to remove, as well as things from your pockets.

Next, put your laptop through, if you’re carrying one. And finally, your bag or suitcase.

This order will pay off on the other side of the machine. When your clothes and loose items come through, your laptop and bag will create a buffer, giving you time and space to re-dress and gather you things before the next person’s stuff comes crashing out.

If you put your bag through first, on the other hand, you end up either taking up a lot of space while waiting for your other bins, or holding the bag while waiting for the rest of your stuff. It’s a mess — and a mistake that is all too common.

Putting your laptop in the middle also helps prevent other people from mistaking your computer for theirs, as many look identical.

In the end this will save a few minutes, cut down stress, and reduce the mess in the security line so everyone has a smoother experience. It’s not going to change the world, obviously, but it will make TSA — probably the worst part of traveling — a little less bad.

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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