Few travelers enjoy going through airpot security -- long lines, grumpy passengers, having to unpack belongings you finally got to fit in your carry-on.
While it may seem like a drag, Transportation Security Administration officials are there not to hinder, but to help you get through security as quickly as possible. And we'd bet they wish you knew these oft-forgotten secrets that would make their job -- and your airport experience -- so much smoother.
1. There's an app that tells you what you can and can't bring on board.
Quit the guessing games, and get the My TSA app, travel nerds! This handy tool -- which is also available on the TSA website -- lets you search for your items to find out if they're approved. (Spoiler alert: Fishing rods and human remains are a go, but knife-filled enchiladas are not.)
2. You can bring only ONE bag of liquids... and take it out first, please.
Are agents always rifling through your stuff, even after it's gone through the conveyor belt? That's probably because you're not following the 3-1-1 rule properly. Liquid and gel containers must be 3.4 ounces or less and stowed in a single one-quart sized plastic bag. Take the bag, put it in a bin, and you'll fly through the checkpoint without a problem.
3. TSA agents don't always want to take your stuff away.
Former agent Jason Edward Harrington recently wrote about his time in the TSA for Politico. He revealed that sometimes, TSA agents realize confiscating your items doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but they have to follow the rules anyway.
"I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots," Harrington wrote, "the implied logic being that the pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying." Even when the rules sound silly to you, there are other reasons for their existence and no exceptions.
4. ...and they'll let you run back to put it in your car.
If you're stuck at security with an item that's not approved, TSA agents will gladly let you run back to your car to drop it off, or outside to give it to a non-traveling friend or family member. The problem, of course, is that you may not have time to make your flight after doing this... but it's nice to know the option exists and is encouraged.
5. You can bring wine (and whiskey) onboard, FYI.
As long as your alcohol is in a 3.4-ounce container, like those cute mini wine bottles, bring it on (but don't sip, as the FAA only permits passengers to drink alcohol the airline provides). Everything else needs to be checked: Make sure you comply with the TSA's (generous) alcohol proof requirements before packing.
6. ...and cake too.
One of the TSA's favorite things to stress during the holidays is that pies and cakes are, in fact, allowed through security. Yum.
7. You can also knit on a plane.
Because you totally wanted to make that pillowcase for granny during your flight to Florida... right?
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post suggested that plane passengers could drink alcohol they've carried onboard. However, the FAA only permits passengers to drink alcohol the airline provides.