Travel Tips To Save Time
And Hassle At The Airport

by David Tinney

David Tinney

Since 9/11, new security rules are in place at all airports in the USA. To help you avoid some of the hassles and frustrations of the new security measures, we offer these tips and suggestions.

James Loy, head of the Transportation Security Administration, (TSA) suggests travelers should put toothbrushes and other personal belongings in plastic bags so screeners won't have to touch them. He said books should be spread out rather than stacked, and food and beverages are prohibited.

Food items, like cheese or chocolate, can be mistaken by bomb-detection machines for explosives and generate a "false positive." TSA screeners will hand-search bags that register a positive reading.

Among other recommendations and requirements:

Shoes should be packed last to make it easier for screeners to hand-search luggage.

Bags should be left unlocked so screeners won't have to force them open to search them by hand. Loy recommended that people use cable ties or zip ties, which can be purchased at hardware stores and cut off easily.

Don't put film in checked bags because screening equipment will damage it.

Leave gifts unwrapped. Screeners may unwrap those that aren't.

Put scissors, pocket knives and other sharp items in checked bags. They are prohibited from being carried on planes.

Time Saving Tips...

Following these tips will help you reduce your wait time at the security checkpoint.

Before the Airport...

Do NOT pack or bring prohibited items to the airport. Visit TSA Travel Tips for a complete list.

Leave gifts unwrapped. They may be opened for inspection.

Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry, and accessories that contain metal. Metal items may set off the alarm on the metal detector.

Put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in your carry-on baggage. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.

Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1.

Place identification tags in and on all of your baggage. Don’t forget your laptop computer.

At the Airport....

Before you get in line…

Do NOT bring drinks or other liquids to the security checkpoint unless they are in paper or polystyrene (e.g. Styrofoam TM), sealed or seal-able/spill-proof containers.

Do NOT bring food to the security checkpoint unless it is wrapped or in a container. Unpeeled natural foods like fruit are okay.

Once you get in line…In, Out, Off

Put metal IN your carry-on bag. This includes jewelry, loose change, keys, mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs).

Take OUT your laptop computer. Place it in a bin, separate from its carrying case.

Take OFF your outer coat. Place it in a bin. Suit jackets and blazers do not have to be removed, unless requested by the screener.

Common Passenger Questions

Q: What are prohibited items?

A: Prohibited items are weapons, explosives, incendiaries, and include items that are seemingly harmless but may be used as weapons-the so-called “dual use” items. You may not bring these items to security checkpoints without authorization. A non-exclusive list of prohibited items is available at TSA Travel Tips.

Q: What may happen to me if I bring a prohibited item to a security checkpoint?

A: You may be criminally and/or civilly prosecuted or, at the least, asked to rid yourself of the item. A screener and/or law enforcement officer will make this determination, depending on what the item is and the circumstances. This is because bringing a prohibited item to a security checkpoint-even accidentally-is illegal.

Q: What may happen to my prohibited item at the security checkpoint?

A: Your prohibited item may be detained for use in an investigation and, if necessary, as evidence in your criminal and/or civil prosecution. If permitted by the screener or law enforcement officer, you may be allowed to: consult with the airlines for possible assistance in placing the prohibited item in checked baggage, withdraw with the item from the screening checkpoint at that time, make other arrangements for the item, such as taking it to your car, or voluntarily abandon the item. Items that are voluntarily abandoned cannot be recovered and will not be returned to you.

Q: Can I transport guns or firearms?

A: Guns and Firearms are NOT permitted in your carry-on baggage, but depending on the policy of your airline, they may be included with your checked baggage. Check with your airline or travel agent to see if firearms are permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. Firearms carried as checked baggage MUST be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided gun case, and declared to the airline at check-in. Only you, the passenger, may have the key or combination.

Q: What about ammunition?

A: Ammunition is NOT permitted in your carry-on baggage, but depending on the policy of your airline, may be included with your checked baggage. Check with your airline or travel agent to see if ammunition is permitted in checked baggage on the airline you are flying. If ammunition is permitted, it must be declared to the airline at check-in. Small arms ammunitions for personal use must be securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes, or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. Ask about limitations or fees, if any, that apply.

Q: Can I access the gate area if I am not a passenger?

A: Unaccompanied child, elderly person, or special needs If you are going to assist an unaccompanied child, elderly person, or person with special needs through the security checkpoint, you will need to get a gate pass/authorization at the airport ticket counter of your airline.

A: Frequent Fliers Clubs and Lounges When airline and airport clubs and lounges are located beyond the passenger security checkpoint, passengers without tickets should contact their airline representative to gain access. Access to the security checkpoints is controlled by the airlines.

David Tinney, an expert in the travel industry, is the owner of Adventure Travel Service and author of the best selling e-guide, Why Not Fly Free?

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