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What items cause confusion at security check? When are queuing times longest? - An airport professional’s 7 tips on for an easy airport security check

Article published
21.2.2019 at 09:00
Liquid products and electronics on a security control tray.
Strict security screening rules can sometimes make passengers nervous or confused, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Finavia's Service Manager at Security Services talks about ways to make traveling as smooth and easy as possible.

Clearing security control is the last step before entering the departures area.

Joni Pekkanen, Finavia's Service Manager at Security Services, shares advice on what to remember during a security check to give your trip a stress-free start.

1. Reserve enough time

At Finnish airports, security queues usually move fast. At Helsinki Airport, for instance, the average queuing time is typically only six minutes. Still, it’s wise to reserve enough time to go through security check because at certain hours of the day, queuing may take a moment. Peak times for security check are from 05:00 to 07:00 in the morning and from 14:00 to 17:00 in the afternoon.

“During the winter season, it is also advisable to prepare for a busy half-day, because there are normally lots of people heading to skiing destinations,” says Pekkanen.

When you arrive at security check, be careful not to block the way. To keep the queue moving, remove your outerwear and organize your hand luggage in advance.

2. Do I need a passport?

At Helsinki Airport, you do not need to show your passport at security control, but you should have your boarding pass ready as they are checked at the automatic gate. At other Finavia airports, it is shown to security officers. You should always have your passport with you for airport authorities and airlines.

3. Liquid or not?

Liquids cause headaches for many passengers, as there are strict limits on the amount of liquids allowed. It is advisable to store containers with liquids in a clear resealable bag and place this in the tray so that it’s easily seen. It is also advisable to empty water bottles before arriving at the security check.

“70% of the items we remove are prohibited liquids of more than one deciliter. Although restrictions on liquids have been in force for a long time, they still pose challenges at airports,” says Pekkanen.

Occasionally, food is also a concern if it contains sauces or other liquids. The rule of thumb is that if a product can be applied or spread on a surface, it is classified as a liquid.

4. Take your laptop or tablet out

Why should a laptop or iPad, for example, be unpacked during security checks?

“With a lot of stuff in hand luggage, it is challenging to distinguish the features and details of electronic devices. Taking it out will make it easier for security inspectors to do their job. Security screening speeds up when laptops can be better scanned,” Pekkanen says.

However, as technology develops in the future, it is possible that large electronics can be kept inside bags or suitcases. Such equipment is already being tested at a few security lines at Helsinki Airport this spring.

5. Power bank in hand luggage, sharp objects in the hold

“It is forbidden to pack power banks in the aircraft hold due to the fire safety risk. Power banks are therefore removed from baggage that goes into the cargo hold, and should be packed into cabin baggage instead,” says Pekkanen.

In addition, Pekkanen recommends packing sharp objects directly in checked baggage. If the length of the blade is more than 6 cm, the object must not be carried in hand luggage.

Airlines may have more specific regulations, so you should always follow the carrier’s specific instructions.

6. If an item is removed at security check, you can get it back

For example, if somehow a prohibited object is found in your hand luggage, and this item is important, you can talk to the security inspector about what can be done for it to be returned to you.

“The security inspector always tries to find a solution other than removing the item. Options include storage, mailing the item or taking the item back to your car."

7. Don't forget your valuables

Even after security check, do not block the line. Collect your belongings and put on your belt or coat in an area that won’t obstruct the queue. Be sure to check that you have all your personal items with you.

“Many important goods, such as passports, are forgotten at security check. Keys, phones and passports should be put in the jacket pocket and not merely placed in the tray.”

Check here to see if your item is allowed in your hand luggage.