A TSA Agent’s Guide to What Not to Wear to the Airport

Tips on what to skip the day you travel.


Cute but not so conducive to running for your gate. | Shutterstock.

There are few places bleaker than the last spot in the interminable, spaghetti-snaking airport security line in late summer. And at some point, we’ve all been that guy, the one who holds up the small army of single-file impatients because we forgot about the water bottle in our bag, the laptop underneath all contents of the backpack, or the portable Mace in our purse (me).

Fact of the matter is, poor clothing and carry-on choices make for slow lines, disgruntled travelers, and (some) understandably miserable airport personnel. That’s we love these tips from a TSA agent on what not to wear to the airport and why.

There are the obvious items you know to leave at home the day you travel: thigh-high lace-up gladiators and cargo shorts, for example. However, we were surprised to see a few items that only a professional could warn us against. The most shocking? Maxi dresses, under which a TSA officer has to check for weapons. (That’s right: No pat-down. We’re talking actually having an officer look beneath your skirt — yep, they do that.) Avoid too-loose or bulky clothing. Anything that could be concealing a weapon means you’ll get an extra-close pat-down, and no one wants that.

Another offender? Bobby pins. Loading up on too many of these tiny suckers can set off the metal detector. As for chunky metal jewelry: Not all can be so easily removed for the conveyor belt. Pro tip: The Cartier Love bracelet can only be removed with a screwdriver, which many forget to bring along. Bras with metal underwires can also cause a problem.

The key here is to stick to quick and easy, non-metal essentials, and if you can manage to look cute doing so, snaps for you. Also remember to remove incriminating items from your cosmetics kit; too many $13 razors and brow scissors have been lost to airport security. Nevermore.