A few tips for those of you flying this holiday season.
recommends that you arrive at the airport two hours before your flight. This
means being AT the airport two hours before your flight. This DOES NOT mean just
getting in your car two hours before the flight, then stopping for coffee,
dropping off your dry cleaning, and searching for a last-minute gift before heading
in the general direction of the airport. And, it DOES NOT mean joining the
security queue five minutes before your flight is scheduled to begin boarding.
Contrary to the belief banging around in your own head, you will not be the
only person trying to catch a flight!
Want the queue to
move smoothly and – dare I say – quickly? Have your boarding pass and ID out,
and ready to hand to the TSA Officer at the desk. If you’ve been in line for
more than a few seconds, you’ve had time to prepare your documents. Hand them
both to the officer at the same time, using one hand!
Listen to what
the TSA Officers are telling you. They are not there because they want to slow
your progress. They are actually telling you how to make things go smoothly.
3.4 ounces of
liquid means 3.4 ounces. Yes, that foot-tall bottle of shampoo is too large. It
cannot go. It doesn’t matter if your water bottle is sealed. It cannot go. They
don’t care if you just bought that Diet Coke in the gift shop right outside the
check point. It cannot go. That grande, half-caff, soy, pumpkin spice, double
mocaccino? It shall not pass! (This also goes for gels and aerosols larger than
your bag (suitcase/backpack/duffel bag/ruck sack/etc.) make sure it’s empty! Go
through every single pocket to ensure there are no prohibited items. Make sure
there are no guns, no knives (no, that tiny pocket knife with the one-inch
blade is NOT allowed), no bullets, no grenades, no brass knuckles, no
mace/pepper spray, etc. In addition, replica weapons are not allowed. The TSA
Officers will not believe you when you swear you have no idea how those things
got in your bag.
Think about what
you’re packing in your carry-on bag. If you put food in your bag (I’m not
talking about snacks here, I mean food like frozen steaks, chopped up raw fish,
chicken, etc. Yes, they’ve seen all of these.) it will very likely be flagged
for additional screening. If it’s wrapped in tinfoil, or a hundred layers of
plastic wrap, it will be flagged. If you’re planning to take candles, or snow
globes (larger than 3.4 ounces of water), or any foods that would fall under
the liquids/gels/aerosols umbrella (peanut butter, cans of soup, cranberry
sauce, cream cheese, etc.) put them in your checked bag. They will not be
allowed through the check point.
If you’re planning
to transport Christmas presents in your carry-on bags, do not wrap them. If
they look suspicious on the x-ray, the TSA may have to open them (and will not
electronic devices larger than a cell phone out of your bag/backpack/ruck sack
and place each of them in a separate bin, with NOTHING on top of or below them.
This includes, but is not limited to: laptops, tablets, iPads, e-readers, video
games, CPAP machines, universal TV remotes, George Foreman grills, cordless
weed-wackers, chainsaws, etc. If in doubt, take it out.
The TSA has
really cool x-ray machines. If you leave it in your bag, they will find it.
They will not let it slide. They will pull it out themselves, and re-run the
bag, slowing down everyone.
(PS: If an Officer holds up your bag, and asks you if you
left a tablet inside, DO NOT say, “It’s not a tablet, it’s an iPad.” Or, “It’s
not an e-reader, it’s a Kindle.” They will laugh at you, and then take their
sweet time finding it to re-run it.)
Bring a Ziploc
bag in which to place the contents of your pockets. Take EVERYTHING out of your
pockets! Let me say that again because it sounds kind of important. TAKE.
EVERY. THING. OUT. OF. YOUR. POCKETS! This doesn’t mean everything except your
wallet. It doesn’t mean everything except the 37 cents in coins. It doesn’t
mean everything except the Kleenex that’s been there for six weeks… Or your
passport… Or your Chapstick… Or your boarding pass… Or your library card… Or
the two Tylenol you were saving to take on the plane. ANYTHING left in your
pockets WILL get you a pat down. Everything means EVERYTHING!
And, while we’re
on the subject of pat downs… Most people – and I’m talking about somewhere
north of 90 percent of people – bring a pat down upon themselves. Can’t be bothered
to empty your pockets? Pat down. You swear you have the one belt that won’t be
detected? Pat down. Want to wear pants with zippered pockets/cuffs? Pat down. Wearing
pants 10 sizes too large? Pat down. Want to wear sparkly/glittery/bedazzled
clothing, or clothing with metallic threads? Pat down. Want to wear every piece
of jewelry you own to the airport? Pat down. Blue jeans with a ton of designs
stitched on the back pockets? You guessed it, pat down.
Above all, use
some common sense. Yes, I said it, COMMON SENSE!