How to Get Through Airport Security Faster This Holiday Season

Planning holiday travel? Ten tips for how to get through security faster during the holidays with your family |

Airports will soon be buzzing with thousands of travellers getting ready to visit family and friends or simply to escape the cold weather. Regardless of your destination, you will have to go through security.

These 10 winter travel tips and video from the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) are sure to help you and your family breeze through the airport security checkpoint.

1. Pack Liquids, Aerosols and Gels Properly

CATSA permits liquids, aerosols and gels that are 100ml or less in your carry-on. Place these items in a single 1L clear, resealable plastic bag so the screening officer can easily see the contents. Any containers over 100ml must be placed in your checked baggage. (Tip: Double-bag liquids packed in checked bags)

 2. Know the Age Restrictions for Baby Food

Beverages and food (e.g. breast milk, formula, juice, purées) for children under the age of two (2) are exempted from the liquid, aerosol and gel restrictions. Pack these items so they can easily be removed from your carry-on baggage for inspection.

 3. Bring Solid Snacks for the Family

While you can’t bring yogurt or peanut butter, you can carry solid food items, such as sandwiches, granola bars and fruit through security when travelling within Canada. You can also bring an empty refillable drink container to refill once you pass through security.

4. Have Medications Ready for Inspection

CATSA allows prescription and essential non-prescription medications (e.g. cough syrup, decongestant spray, contact lens solution). You can bring them in quantities greater than 100 ml in your carry-on but must show these items to the screening officer for inspection.

5. Leave Gifts Unwrapped

Leave all gifts unwrapped if you’re bringing them with you. CATSA may need inspect their contents. During the holidays, some airports offer post-security gift wrapping service.

6. Keep Small Electronics in Your Carry-on

Bringing your children’s electronic games is a good way to keep them busy at the airport. Small electronic items, including MP3 players (e.g. iPod) and tablets, can remain in your carry-on bag.

7. Dress Comfortably

Make sure you and the little ones can easily remove any bulky outwear including winter jackets and boots with large buckles. You must place items in bins provided at the checkpoint for screening.

8. Use the Family/Special Needs Lane

Check if the Family/Special Needs lane is available when you arrive at the checkpoint. It’s designed to accommodate larger items (e.g. strollers, car seats) and is best for passengers needing more time or help at the checkpoint.

9. Have Your Boarding Passes Ready

Remember to have all family members’ boarding passes ready to present to the screening officer for verification.

10. Contact CATSA if You Have Questions

If you need more information, CATSA can be contacted directly at 1-888-294-2202 or on Twitter @catsa_gc or on Pinterest.

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Planning holiday travel? Ten tips for how to get through security faster during the holidays with your family |

Credits: Photo + Video courtesy of CATSA. Pinterest image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Disclosure: The Travelling Mom thanks CATSA for its sponsorship of this post.

Are you travelling during the holiday season? Share your security survival tips and tricks below.

13 thoughts on “How to Get Through Airport Security Faster This Holiday Season”

  1. Jolanta | Casual Travelers

    Good list of tips (reminders). I don’t know if that’s an issue in Canada, but if you’re flying out of the U.S., especially JFK, I’d also say – take the gifts out of the packaging, and take tags off clothes you want to give as gifts, or they might disappear during transport. (True story, unfortunately.)

    1. That’s a great tip, Jolanta. Thank you for adding that to the list, and sorry it was a lesson learned the hard way.

  2. Katja - globetotting

    What a great video!! We were doing fine on airport security until the recent arrival of number 3, now I’m back to packing our bags with military precision so I know exactly where the electronics / water / *stuff* is! Love Family Lanes, I wish every airport had them!

  3. Great post ! As my children are now getting older, the screening process is so much easier than when they were toddlers (they have become pretty good at it). The one thing that trips me up every time is whether or not you need to remove your shoes. Having just double checked this, people may be interested to know that flying within Canada, shoes do not need to be removed at security screening, but when you are flying to the U.S. from Canada, adults need to remove their shoes (unless they are part of a pre-screening program such as TSAPre), and children 12 and under do not need to remove their shoes. At least…..I think I’ve got this right. Correct me if I am wrong Claudia.:)

    1. Thanks for your comments, Tara! The screening process appears to vary not only from country to country, but airport to airport. On my recent travels through five different airports, I experienced shoes off, shoes on, liquids bag out, liquids bag left in the carryon, and one confiscation of a labelled and sealed contact lens solution of less than 100 ml. To be honest, I’ve debated writing a post about the striking lack of consistency that exists in airport security from place to place. It’s a concern, as well as a huge pain.

  4. We haven’t traveled during the holidays in a long time, but we used to come to the US from India and it was the worst having to keep all the gifts unwrapped, but it’s worth it. Also we carried on as much as we could since one year our bag was lost for 7 days and our christmas gifts were inside! never made that mistake again!

    1. Oh my goodness, how terrible! Thanks for sharing your story, and the great tip to not pack all of the precious gifts in checked baggage.

  5. I love that there is a family needs lane. I think every airport should have one, although I’ve only seen it in a few. I 100% agree about leaving those presents unwrapped. That is a must do. I also have friends who ship gifts ahead to their destination to avoid taking them through security, so I guess that would be another option. Great post!

    1. What a great suggestion to ship gifts ahead to the destination – I love that idea. Thanks for sharing, Kirsten!

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I’m Claudia, an adventurous mom who loves to explore the world and travel with my family. This site shares modern-mom-tested family travel sanity tips, destination advice, and inspiration to stay ever curious and create lifelong travel memories.

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