While navigating airport security has obviously become more complicated in recent years, you can still get to your flight quickly and without hassle. If you have an understanding of the current airport procedures before you travel and pack your bags accordingly, you probably will not even notice the issues that cause problems for so many travelers.
Like any other aspect of the travel process, the key to navigating airport security quickly and easily is preparation. Therefore, it's a good idea to organize your alliances before arriving at the airport so that you can move as efficiently as possible through the security process. Here are a number of suggestions to help you through security and onto your flight:
o Dress appropriately – Make sure you avoid wearing metal when traveling. This includes everything from belt buckles and shirts with metal snaps to under-wire bras. If you are wearing any type of metal jewelry, place the items in your carry-on baggage until you have cleared security.
o Have your documents ready – As you approach the security checkpoint, keep your photo ID, passport and boarding pass in hand to avoid delays.
o Be prepared to remove your shoes – Airport rules now require all passengers to remove their shoes and place them on the conveyor to be x-rayed. Do not argue with personnel about this procedure; you will be inspected more thoroughly if you do, at risk of missing your flight.
o Clean out your pockets – Place everything from keys and loose change to cell phones and PDAs in your carry-on baggage before approaching the checkpoint. By removing as many items as you can from your person, you drastically reduce the possibility of setting off a metal detector.
o Charge your batteries – When you place laptop computers and other electronic devices on the x-ray conveyor, you may be asked to prove that the devices are functional. If you are unable to turn on any of your devices, you are guaranteed an additional delay.
o Follow the rule of 3-1-1 – Concerned toiletries – especially gels and liquids like toothpaste and shampoo – you are only allowed to carry on bottles that are three ounces or smaller. All of your toilets must fit into one quart-size zip-lock bag. This single bag must then be removed from your luggage and placed on the conveyor to be x-rayed. Any items in containers larger than three ounces will be confiscated.
o Verify your prescriptions – Make sure all medications are in their original bottles with your name listed. You certainly do not want to have essential medications come under scrutiny.
o Do not complain – If airport security requests to search any of your bags, cooperate and be friendly. In all likelihood, you were chosen at random for an additional search and are not the victim of profiling or any other suspicion. It has also been advertised at checkpoints recently that the security area is a "sarcasm-free zone." It is the responsibility of airport security to take all threats, jokes and complaints seriously. Simply, act calm and respectful while passing through security and you will not experience any problems.
o If you do not need it on the plane, check it – Removing clutter from your carry-on bag will allow screeners to process your luggage more quickly. Furthermore, as there are strict limits on liquids and gels, it is a good idea to place all nonessential items inside a checked bag.
o Understand your itinerary – If you are traveling to the Caribbean, you might be asked about your travel plans by customs personnel. Make sure everyone in your traveling party knows the details of your flights and the name of your resort. If customs personnel hear conflicting details about your itinerary, you may have to sit through additional questioning.
o Check the restricted items list before heading to the airport – While pretty much everyone is aware that weapons and explosive materials are hidden on planes, there are plenty of items that you might not know are restricted. However, if you have something like a pocket knife or lighter in your possession, you can still place it in your checked baggage before proceeding to the checkpoint.
If you know what to expect when approaching airport security, you will not have any problems. More importantly, you will not cause yourself any unnecessary delays and will always make your flights with time to spare.