I’m sure we all agree that getting through airport security is a bit of a pain, however, I am also sure that we all agree that security at airports is of paramount importance, especially Post 9/11 Era where we have seen a dramatic increase in policies, procedures and additional measures that we all now encounter which have resulted in those ever dreaded long lines, rude and intrusive security personnel, and obnoxious and inconsiderate fellow travelers, which all add to the frustration and headaches of travel!
One of the main tasks in my line of work is to actually set-up, review, inspect and audit security check-points at many various locations throughout the world, so I know only too well the ups and downs of security screening and the headaches they can deliver.
For your consideration we shall discuss various steps that will hopefully get you through a security screening check-point at airports and set you on course for a peaceful and relaxed travel experience!
1. Preparation Before Departing
- Pack Sensibly: don’t stuff your checked baggage with lots of electronics (chargers – cords – devices etc). Remember your valuable electronics should be contained within your carry-on baggage, and of which shall have to be removed and submitted for x-ray screening.
- Liquids – 3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. If in doubt, place all your liquids in your checked baggage.
- Coats & Jackets: Pack all coats and jackets in checked baggage, if carried or worn your will have to submit for inspection.
- Gifts: If they are wrapped and items cannot be properly identified when undergoing security screening you will have to unwrap them for further inspection.
- Dress Appropriately: Remember, all anomalies detected must be resolved so wear practical footwear, slip-on shoes is ideal and can be removed faster. Avoid clothing with metal and metal accessories, all of this will have to be removed before proceeding through the walk-through metal detector.
- Body Piercing: Various metal body piercings can cause an alarm when proceeding through the walk-through metal detector which shall result in additional screening, so you may wish to remove these before leaving the house, otherwise you could be asked to do so at the airport.
Note: Prohibited Items – TSA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and/or airlines have prohibited certain items from being brought onto airplanes in carry-on and/or checked bags. Plan ahead by checking out the TSA Prohibited Items List at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/prohibited-items and avoid the potential of additional screening!
2. At The Airport
- Arrive on Time – Make sure you leave enough time to check bags, get through security screening and a little more for the unexpected. As a rule of thumb I generally arrive at least 2 hours in advance for domestic flights and at least 3 hours for international.
- Documentation – Boarding Pass & Valid Government Photo Identification for all those over 18 years of age, needs be immediately accessible. recommend that these are carried in your hand when entering security lines.
- Signage – Read and digest
- Prior to – Reaching the security identification check-point, while moving up the line, then would be the best time to empty all your pockets, take of belts, jewelry, cell phones etc, and place them in your carry-on bag.
- Pay attention – to fellow travelers, the flow/direction when in line, learn from others mistakes.
- ID Check – Be polite and courteous and answer all questions calmly and with respect, after all the officers are only doing their job.
- X-Ray Screening – After the identification check, as you are proceeding along, this is normally the ideal time to remove the laptops, iPad’s, liquids, your shoes and any other item that needs be screened separately, you should have enough time to do this before reaching the trays/x-ray belt, if not all the better as there is no line formed and you can take a little extra time to prepare. Remember, if in doubt, take it out.
- Walk-Through Metal Detector – Prior to approaching the detector, you should have relieved yourself of all items from your person and only have in hand your Boarding Pass & Identification. Upon checking that your belongings are moving along nicely on the x-ray conveyor belt, approach the Walk-through Metal Detector and wait until called forward by security. It’s important at this stage that you do not touch the detector and walk through smartly, this way you should avoid any alerts. If you do alert, and are selected for additional screening, you have failed in the preparation stage and need learn from your mistakes.
- Security Screening Completion Stage – On completion of screening, collect your belongings immediately, vacate the immediate area to make way for others, find a nice secluded spot and compose yourself. Congratulation, you are now in the secure and sterile area of the airport.
So having completed all of the above and finding yourself walking towards the boarding gate, your sure to feel a sense of relief and pride, in that you have breezed through all the hustle and bustle of security, granted not every trip will be the same, but if you follow these simple steps you will improve time after time, which will result in a more pleasant and faster experience.
Points to Remember
- You will be asked if: Your luggage been in your possession at all times? or has anyone given you anything or asked you to carry on or check any items for them?
- You may be asked to: Step aside for additional search!
- Never Ever: Make any jokes, especially those that relate to bombs or terrorists, you will be taken aside for additional screening and questioning, resulting in you missing your flight and or Law Enforcement involvement.
- Listen to Security: Follow instructions and do as they say, it may not be to your liking but there is reasons behind such. Remember, security is there to keep you safe.
No matter what the reason or question is, always remain calm and avoid suspicious or anxious behavior, this will go a long way and always be courteous and respectful.
Do you have any advise that can be shared to make our airport trips more pleasant? have any tips or tricks up your sleeve? or would you like to see something included? You might even have a horror story that you wish to share for discussion? Drop us a line and start the wheels rolling!