Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Getting ‘safely’ through airport security

Want to get through airport security with time to spare?

Want to be nice to your fellow travelers and not hold them up so they ALSO can make it through airport security with time to spare?

Then you’ve got to play by the rules.

Before you even get to the airport, if you have liquids/lotions (non-prescription) that you are taking with you, put them in your to-be-checked luggage. Don’t even try to go through security with them. They'll be taken from you.

Have bottles of water, juices, soda, etc to quench your thirst while waiting to board? Leave them home. You can’t take them through security. Buy them after you are cleared.

Have a pocket knife? Tools in your carry-on? Forget it. If you need them at your destination, you’ll have to check them.

If you have liquids/lotions that you want to take in your carry-on, get a one quart resealable bag (one per passenger) to put them in. Each bottle/container must be less than 100 ml/3 fl oz. (Size limit does not apply to prescription medications. Simply declare them at security.) I visit the travel-sized/sample sections of my grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc to pick up items such as toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, shaving cream, etc to have enough with us for a day or two. I then visit a local supermarket and buy regular sized items for the remainder of the trip. (What fun visiting a supermarket in a foreign country a day or two after arrival! Quick introduction to how the locals live. I love it.)

Approach the first security person with your photo ID and boarding pass in hand. Photo ID must be government issued like a driver’s license or passport.

As you approach the conveyer belt at security, if you have a lot to take care of, step aside as you: get all the metal out of your pockets, take off your shoes, take out your laptop, take out the one quart bag with liquids, take off your jacket. Put all these items into one or more of the tubs and step back into line. Keep, in hand, your boarding pass and photo ID.

If there is room on the table, push your tubs/carry-on along. Don’t hog the table space.

WAIT until the person in front of you is cleared through the metal detector and you get waved through by security. Now push your items onto the moving conveyer belt so they come out the other side just about the same time you get cleared through the metal detector.

Gather your items and, as quickly as possible, move out of the way. If you need, take a chair to put your shoes back on. Put everything away and head for your flight. Bon Voyage!

(What I’ve written here applies to security in US airports. I’ve been through several international airports in the past year and it is impossible to state what will or will not be allowed through airport security in other countries. To make sure you are current on US airport security rules, just before you leave, check out the Transportation Security Administration traveler's site. )