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Taking flights in the US?

How to get through security quicker

The United States of America - beautiful, diverse and full of see-before-you-die attractions - is one of our most popular tourist destinations. Taking flights in the country is, if you only have two weeks, by far the quickest and easiest way of getting around. That Amtrak train journey or Greyhound bus ride may be more suited to gap-year travel.

To get through security quicker, the US Transportation Security Administration has published helpful advice for those of us (and who doesn't?) who want to get through the line faster.

Here, distilled from the TSA website, are the golden rules:

Layer, layer

If you layer the items you are bringing on board - clothes, then electronic items, more clothes, heavier items - it will be easier for security officers to see what's in your bag.

Don't pack large electronic items, such as laptops, video game consoles or DVD players, in checked baggage. Keep it simple and bring it on board. Remember, just as at airports in the UK and Ireland, you will have to remove the item for separate screening.

Ensure you have liquids or gels in a clear resealable plastic bag. In the UK it's 100ml; in US measures, it's 3.4 ounces in a "quart-sized" bag.

Coats and jackets must be screened too. Pack, if possible, in your carry-on bag.

If you are bringing gifts, leave them unwrapped. Security officials may have to unwrap it and may not be as gentle or caring as you would like...

Undeveloped film should go in your cabin baggage. If you have film faster than 800-speed, let the TSA officer know. That way it won't get x-rayed.

If you are not sure about a certain item, don't risk having it confiscated. Leave it at home. Click here for a list of prohibited items. A meat cleaver in carry-on is a no-no (obviously) but a gel shoe insert or a snow globe from the souvenir shop? Also no-nos.

Dress for success - not secondary screening

Remember all those items that could set off the metal detector alarm? Keys, heavy jewellery, hair clips, belt buckles, even under-wire bras will all lead to beeps.

If your body piercing sets off the metal detector you will be invited for additional screening.

Head coverings and religious garments - if they are loose enough to potentially hide prohibited items, you will be screened.

You'll have to remove your shoes before walking through the metal detector. Wear something that's easy to take off, perhaps leave those knee-high boots at home.

Have ready

Your boarding pass and passport.

And finally

Be polite and don't make any jokes. TSA officials may not appreciate your sense of humour.

Read our guide to what you need to do before you take flights to the US.

Updated May 2014

Oonagh Shiel
Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!