Get money-saving tips in your inbox.

Stay on top of personal finance tips from our money experts!

News & Resources

The Check-In Checklist: How to Travel Through Airport Security Hassle-Free

March 10, 2019
3 mins
A mother and daughter wheel their suitcases in the airport

If you have a trip planned with the kids or maybe even for yourself, you’re probably getting that anxious feeling in the pit of your stomach thinking about the real first leg of your journey – navigating through the airport terminal.

Last year, Toronto's Pearson Airport estimated 130,000 travellers passed through the terminal on its busiest travel days -- navigating that crowd can be a challenge. So if you’re like most people, here are some questions that will likely go through your head the night before your departure. Rest assured with these tips and tricks to breeze through security, stress-free.

Airport routine got you anxious? Rest easy with a free short getaway!

Sign up for the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card or the Marriott Bonvoy™ Business American Express® Card and earn 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy™ points – enough for four free nights at a Category 2 hotel after you charge $1,500 in purchases to your card in your first three months of card membership! In addition, earn five points for every dollar spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy™ properties, and two points per dollar spent on anything else!

Ask yourself these questions before heading to the airport

Is my luggage too heavy?

Do yourself a favour and weigh your suitcase before you leave. Typically, airlines allow you to check luggage up to 23 kg (50 lbs) for a flat fee. Overweight and extra baggage will cost you even more. Be cognizant of your weight or be prepared to say goodbye to some of your belongings forever at the airport if your bag is overweight.

What time do I need to check-in?

You can generally check-in online for your flight within 24 hours of departure, or within 12 hours at the airport. If you check-in online, you’ll usually be given the option to make seat changes, purchase upgrades, and pay your baggage fees in advance, saving you time at the airport.

Also, if you opt to receive your boarding pass online, take a screenshot of it in case you don’t have service or can’t access your email once you get to the terminal. For domestic flights, it’s recommended that you arrive at the airport two hours before your scheduled departure, and three hours for international flights, though some airlines differ. Always check your airline’s website to confirm.

What can I bring in my carry-on?

No knives, nail clippers, or anything that can be deemed as a potential weapon. Even children’s toys that look like weapons should be kept at home. Liquids, aerosols or gels (like your hand lotion or sanitizer) must be in containers no larger than 100 ml.

If you have a personal reusable water bottle, dump the contents before going through security. However, you are permitted to bring prescription medication and essential non-prescription medications (contact lens solution, cough syrup, eye drops, inhalers, etc.) even if they are more than 100 ml. And remember, though cannabis was legalized in Canada, flying outside Canada with cannabis is illegal.

Can I bring snacks?

Yes! Airport food is super expensive. Prices are inflated because they know once you pass security, you have no other choice. Just ensure those snacks conform to the 100 ml rule if they are a liquid or gel. If you’re travelling with a child under two, essentials like baby food, milk, formula, water and juice are exempt from the 100 ml limit; but remember to declare them when going through the screening process.

Can I wear jewellery if I have to go through a metal detector at security?

Limit the amount of jewellery you wear to the basics (earrings, watches and rings), so as not to set off the metal detector when you go through screening. If you do happen to set it off, at least you can quickly remove these items. Take off any hidden body piercings before going to the airport and avoid wearing clothes, shoes or belts with excessive metal studs, buttons, buckles or steel toes. That being said, you should dress comfortably with easy-to-remove outerwear as well. 

Can I bring all my electronics on the plane?

Electronics are generally permitted on board. It’s also safer to keep fragile, expensive items – like cellphones, laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld gaming devices – on your person rather than packed away in your checked luggage. However, be prepared to take your laptop out and place it in a separate bin when going through the metal detector at security. Some flights may also ask you to put away electronics at certain points en route.

Should I buy travel insurance?

Without question! No matter where your plane lands, make sure you have your travel insurance packed and ready to go.

Contrary to belief, your Canadian health insurance is not valid outside of the country, and same goes for your provincial plan. If you get sick or injured while abroad, seeking treatment at a foreign hospital could cost you thousands of dollars, and the Government of Canada will not pay our medical bills.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

Latest life insurance articles

10 Life insurance myths debunked
Life insurance is for someone older or has kids, right? Wrong. Let’s debunk life insurance myths and learn why everyone needs some form of coverage.
6 mins read
Do you need life insurance? A primer for Canadians
Life insurance isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. But if you have dependents, it can be an important financial safety net for those you love.
7 mins read
Why life insurance should be part of estate planning for new parents
Life insurance is one of the best ways new parents can protect their family and help loved ones in the event of your unexpected death.
5 mins read

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay on top of our latest offers, relevant news and tips!

Thanks for joining!

You'll be hearing from us shortly - stay tuned.