7 Clothing Items to Never Wear Through Airport Security, Experts Say
Read this before planning your outfit.
The 20 minutes spent going through airport security are often the most stressful of any trip. It seems like every time you go through the process, the rules change. Sometimes, you need to remove your shoes, while other times, you can leave them on. Half the time, your bag goes in a bin, while the other half, you can push it through the X-ray machine on its own. All this is even more disorienting, given the speed at which you're expected to move. To make things easier, you'll want to get your basics right—and that includes your outfit. Keep reading to hear from travel and airline experts about the clothing items to never wear through airport security. Your next trip will be so much smoother.
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Clothing Items to Never Wear Through Airport Security
Sandals are easy to slip on and off, but that doesn't make them ideal travel shoes.
"Don't wear flip-flops or sandals if you're concerned about germs on the floor if you have to take off your shoes," says Cheryl Nelson, certified lifestyle and travel preparedness expert and founder of Prepare with Cher. "Always wear socks to protect your feet—we don't know what else could be on that floor."
If there's an emergency during your flight, flip-flops could also make it more difficult to escape to safety, especially if there is debris on the floor.
2. Difficult Shoes
The number one thing to consider when choosing shoes to wear through airport security is that you'll likely have to take them on and off. "Don't wear footwear that is difficult to get off or put back on, like tight-fitting boots," says Nelson. "Shoes with buckles and laces also add time in line."
A slip-on sneaker, loafer, or boot will keep your feet comfortable and protected. And don't forget those socks!
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3. Metal Pins and Clips
You know you shouldn't wear metal through the X-ray machine at the airport. But oftentimes, it's the easily forgettable pieces of metal that set off the alarm. Metal hair clips and bobby pins fall into this category.
"These may set off the metal detector and risk inspection, thus possibly ruining your styled hair," says Nelson. "Metal clothing fasteners or body piercings may also cause you to get flagged."
It might just be easier to pack your belt in your luggage.
"You will almost always be asked to take it off, and trying to take off a belt while juggling your luggage, shoes, or kids only makes things more difficult," says Nelson. "If you have to remove your shoes too, then you have more clothing items to try to quickly put back on on the other side of security."
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5. Bulky Clothing
Oversized clothing might be comfy—especially if you've got a long flight ahead—but it could lead to chaos at airport security.
"Flowy dresses, skirts, or bulky sweaters and sweatshirts may cause you to get selected for a pat-down to ensure you're not hiding anything," says Nelson.
Also on this list? Cargo pants and other pieces of clothing with lots of pockets. "These items make it easy to forget about something in your pocket that could flag security, such as keys, a money clip, or a small bottle of water," Nelson adds.
6. Bulky Outerwear
Traveling anywhere with winter garb can be frustrating. When heading to airport security during the colder months, it's not about leaving your gear at home but organizing it ahead of your turn in line at the X-ray machine.
"Since you'll need them at your destination or on the plane, take these items off and carry them prior to getting to security to save time," says Nelson. "You will be asked to remove anything bulky at the metal detector."
Again, you'll want to avoid items that are difficult to take on and off. And remember to grab all of your pieces. If you think there's a high chance you'll forget your hat or gloves in the security bin, toss them in your carry-on.
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7. Costume Jewelry
Large costume jewelry with lots of metal will most likely need to be put through the X-ray machine. So, either pack it safely in your carry-on or remove it carefully in the security line.
"I've witnessed someone removing a large pearl necklace that got snagged on her clothes and broke, sending pearls bouncing all over the floor," says Nelson. You'll also want to avoid wearing pieces that are expensive or sentimental. Better to pack those in your carry-on, so they're close by but secured.