You are rushing to catch your plane for that all-important business meeting. But you get stopped at security, and your flight takes off without you. Travelers are finding the new TSA security airport checks more than challenging. But there is a way to get through security and make it to the gate with time to spare.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) stepped up security measures for airline passengers in response to heightened security threats. Here are a few tips to make your travels smoother.
1) Take off your outer garments, such as coats, jackets and shoes before you get to the checkpoint. Take anything out of your pockets that will make the metal detector alarm go off. This means jewelry, coins and keys. For international travelers, what you wear could also send up red flags. “Try not to wear anything that looks too “foreign” in the eyes of the screeners,” advises travel expert Greg Gross of I’m Black & I Travel. “I know a frequent flyer from Senegal who travels between the United States and West Africa. When he dresses in Western-style clothing, he is passed through security without a problem. But if he wears traditional Senegalese garb, which tends to be long and loose [i.e. easy to conceal items], he’s searched multiple times.”
2) Don’t argue with the TSA agents. The more cooperative you are, the faster you will be passed through. Check the TA Web site, www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/…/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm <http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/…/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm> , for prohibited items and details on procedure, www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/index.shtm <http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/index.shtm%20>.
3) Use TSA-friendly travel gear. On the market now are bags that allow the TSA scanner to have a clear image of your laptop, rather than you having to take your computer out of its bag. MobileEdge, Aerovation, and Travelon are a few companies that offer these carriers, which range in price from $50 to $100. Also make sure your carry-on is the correct size. “Smaller is usually better. The larger your carry-on – and the more densely you have it packed – the more likely the TSA screeners will want to take search it by hand,” notes Gross. “Air passengers trying to avoid airline baggage fees are bringing even larger bags and cases through security as carry-ons. But what you save in fees, you pay for in added hassles in security.”
4) Don´t feel comfortable with a body scan? Explain to TSA agents in rational manner that you´d like to have an alternative search. “The alternative is to go through conventional metal detectors, followed by what TSA calls an “enhanced pat-down” to look for explosives,” explains Gross. “This involves an aggressive, palms-on frisking of the body, including sensitive regions of the torso. Many air passengers have almost as many objections to enhanced pat-downs as to the full-body scanners.”
5) Avoid the common travel mistakes. “Some passengers try to push the rules to see what they can get away with, especially when it comes to fluids packed in their carry-on. Not only will the screeners confiscate the liquids, but it almost always means a more extensive — and time-consuming — manual search of your bag,” says Gross. Other mistakes include forgetting to take the metal objects like pens or cell phones out of your pockets. The smallest thing that sets off a detector alarm or catches a screener’s eye on the X-ray machine (or scanner) means an automatic manual search.”