If you fly often, you know the drill: what (not) to wear, take off your jacket and shoes, empty your pockets, take out your laptop, take out your baggie of travel-sized liquids. If you don’t know at least these five things when you approach the security checkpoint, you are holding up everyone behind you. Your additional 30 seconds, and that of the man behind you and the woman behind him, add up to hours of extra wait time in airport security lines around the world every single day. Here’s what you can do to help.
Apparently the secret to faster screening is longer tables. Sadly, there’s not much you can do about that. CNT’s short list of things in your control is as follows:
1. Strip yourself of all offending bits of metal BEFORE going to the airport.
2. WEAR loafers.
3. Carry your laptop OUTSIDE your bag.
4. Put your keys, loose change, pens, eyeglass cases, watch, cell phone and belt IN your carry-on. (My tip: put them all in a clear plastic baggie like your toiletries.)
From an interesting article on two months undercover as a TSA screener, the longer version:
+ DO keep your boarding pass in hand.
– DON’T tell a screener that you are about to miss your flight (it won’t win you any sympathy and could even arouse suspicion).
– DON’T try to jam everything into one bin in a misguided effort to be helpful—it’s much harder to screen.
+ DO lay your bag on its side (the upright position is much harder to “read” and may trigger a rescreening).
+ DO put items through the X-ray machine only when you are ready to walk through the metal detector. This minimizes the time you’re separated from your belongings.
– DON’T block traffic by repacking your belongings on the conveyor belt.
+ DO make sure that you have all items before you leave the checkpoint.
– DON’T accuse screeners of theft: Once you’re certain an item is missing, speak to a supervisor.
Clothing and Accessories
– DON’T wear clothing with metallic objects such as buckles.
– DON’T wear lots of jewelry or hairpins that can’t be easily removed.
+ DO wear easily removable shoes.
+ DO take the plastic bag holding liquids out of your carry-on before putting it through the X-ray machine.
– DON’T say you “forgot” you have liquids in your bag.
+ DON’T tell screeners “it only comes in this size” or “it’s almost empty” when asked to surrender containers of liquid larger than three ounces.
+ DON’T tell them how much you spent on the toiletries—it won’t make any difference if they’re the wrong size.
And if you need it even more clearly spelled out for you:
+ Know before you go: it’s YOUR responsibility to know the rules and typical procedures before you fly.
+ Avoid heels, boots, zippers, buckles, metal studs, underwire.
+ If you want to dress up in such things, fine — keep those clothes in your suitcase and change AFTER going through security.
+ If seemingly mundane clothing or shoes set off alarms, make a mental note and avoid wearing them on future travels.
+ Don’t forget to go through your purse for “liquids” like lipstick, lip balm or hand lotion.
+ Have suspicious things near the top of your bag or take them out completely and put them directly in the bin to allow immediate visual inspection (things TSA has regularly found suspicious in my bags include a pack of 4-AA batteries, my travel alarm clock, my travel mirror, my laptop lock, my empty water bottle, my thermos).
+ Do as many of these things as possible BEFORE entering the security line; if you’ve forgotten, do them while IN line rather than waiting till you’re at the front; always take off shoes and coats and have laptop ready 2-3 people before your turn.
+ After your screening, thank the security employees and wish them a nice day.
Have I forgotten anything? Leave your suggestions in the comments.