How to Breeze Through Airport Security

Family at airport security
Expect everyone to get a pat down.

Flying with family is no simple task. Getting everyone packed, organized and ready to go through airport security is about as easy as leading George Clooney to the alter. I checked in with the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (that’s the group that runs and monitors airport security screening in Canada – like TSA in the States) for pointers to help make our summer travel experience run smoothly.

List of what not to carry on an airplane
Do this and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Liquid Limits for Airport Security

Kids get hungry for snacks. You know this, so be prepared. Solid foods like apples, granola bars and sandwiches can be packed in your carry-on for the plane ride. Liquid food – and this includes yogurt, pudding and peanut butter, has to be stored in containers 100ml or less, and placed in a clear, closed, resealable one-litre plastic bag.

It can be hard to figure out what constitutes liquid food. Will it turn to liquid if it melts, should be the question you ask yourself. Peanut butter will do that. Chocolate and cheese seem to be fine to take through, though. A note on icing, if you have a favourite cupcake bakery, taking those iced cupcakes through airport security is fine. Taking a tube or container of icing is not.

If you’re traveling with a baby (under the age of two), baby food, breast milk, formula, water and juice are exempt from the 100 ml limit and don’t have to be placed in a plastic bag. Still, you’ve gotta present these items to the screening officer for inspection.

Other personal items like iPods, tablets and toys, can go in your child’s carry-on baggage, but toys that look like weapons (water guns, toy grenades, etc…), need to be left at home. Duh!

Don’t pack this in your carry on

There’s a lot of items that seem innocuous, but will get your carry on bag searched. Bath salts are one of them. You can bring them on, but only an amount that fits inside a container the size of a soda pop can.

Really thick books like any of the Outlander series in paperback will also trigger a search. Same goes for cardboard baking mixes like brownie and cake mix that you may have excitedly picked up at Target. That’s because of the size and density of the material. To the scanner machines, it can look like suspicious material.

It should also come as no surprise that plastic toy guns look like real guns in an airport security scanner. If it’s a gift, don’t wrap it. Better yet, don’t bring toy or real weapons at all. And if you’re travelling over the holidays, it’s always better to leave your gifts unwrapped. If you wrap them, it’s likely security will hastily unwrap them and if those they were intended for are travelling with you, the secret will be out.

Check Airport Security Wait Times Online

Preparing for your departure is easier with CATSA’s online wait time indicator. I don’t have to tell you knowing the wait times for security screening checkpoints at major airports is super convenient, especially when starting out your trip.

Mom and baby at airport security

Family Line at Airport Security

Get this, there’s a family/special needs lane! This lane is for passengers who need more time or help with their belongings to get through security. Why I always get stuck behind the Dad who doesn’t know how to collapse his stroller, I’ll never know. Check when you arrive to see if this lane is available, as I’m going to do from now on.

Make sure your family wears easy-to-remove outerwear, clothing without snaps, metal buttons or studs and limit jewelry to small items such as earrings. Remember you’re dressing for the airport, not Jersey Shore. Let your child walk through the metal detector if they are able to do so on their own.

And for a giggle, check out these crazy confiscated items.

Going through airport security with a baby or pet

Contact your airline in advance to find out about their policy for passengers travelling with pets. If your pet is travelling in the cabin with you, remove him from the carrying case, send the case through the x-ray scanner and hold the pet in your arms as you proceed through the metal detector. Flying with a baby? Make sure you’ve got an FAA approved and airline approved car seat!

Follow these tips and the only thing left to do is relax and enjoy your family vacation!

Additional travel advice can be found online at, on Twitter (@catsa_gc), and Pinterest (

Have you ever been dinged going through airport security? What’s your biggest blunder? (Mine is repeatedly forgetting to take my mini-jackknife off my key chain. I’ve lost, like seven. Duh!)

Tips on how to quickly get through airport security

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About The Author

5 thoughts on “How to Breeze Through Airport Security”

  1. We fly less often than we drive, so I always forget and make mistakes when we go through security. With this, I can brush up before we leave home. Pinned!

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