Monday, November 22, 2010

Follow the Rules!!!!!

If you don't fly often, you may not be familiar with the latest rules for getting through airport security. Here's a rundown in plain English.

Before You Go
Ship or mail any questionable items to your final destination if you don't want to check your bags. I'm a jewelry maker and have done this several times. I'd rather go through this hassle than have my tools confiscated!

Check-in online and use the electronic boarding pass option if you can. You can check-in with your airline up to 24 hours before your flight. If you are not checking a bag, there is absolutely NO reason to check in at the airline counter at the airport.

Have the following four items easily accessible and removable:
  • Photo ID
  • Boarding pass or electronic device with boarding pass
  • Laptop
  • Quart size liquids bag (more on this later)
Once you Arrive
Before heading to security, confirm your departure gate on the airline screens. I find that about half the time I fly, my departure gate changes between the time I checked in online to the time I arrive at the airport!

The Three Basics
1. One carry-on and one personal item per person.
You are allowed one small "suitcase" or bag (which must fit in the overhead bin of the airplane) and one personal item on every flight. The personal item may be a purse, laptop bag, briefcase, or shopping bag. As long as the personal item fits under the seat in front of you, it's fine.
I can't tell you how many women I see trying to get a suitcase, purse, and shopping bag/laptop bag/briefcase aboard a plane. Ladies, your purse IS the "personal item." My suggestion: Carry a small wristlet with your essentials in it and tuck it inside your shopping bag/laptop bag/whatever.

2. Liquids must be inside one quart-size plastic zip-lock style bag.
That means one of these little bags per person, not all of your liquid items stowed in 10 separate bags. (Yes, I've seen someone try.) And be aware of what a liquid is. When in doubt, here's my rule: If it's gushy, it's a liquid. Lipstick, lip balm, shampoo, hair gel, even soft-solid deodorants all qualify as liquids. Bar soaps and solid deodorants are OK. (By the way, snow globes are not allowed, period. That's a new rule I learned last week!)

3. You are required to show your photo ID along with your boarding pass.
Period, no exceptions, unless you're not old enough to have a driver's license. So go ahead and get both in your hand before you get in line.

And here are some suggestions to make things easier:

Dress appropriately.

Wear easy on/off shoes with socks. (Especially if you're a germophobe - you DON'T want to be walking barefoot through the security line! Ewwwwwwwww!)

Leave the huge belt buckle, metal earrings, or clunky bangle bracelet behind. If you insist on wearing these, take them off and put them in a bin before you go through the metal detector.

Liquids & Laptops Out
Pack your liquids bag and laptop where you can get them out quickly and easily. Once you reach the screening area, take your laptop out of its bag and put it in a bin all by itself. Take out your liquids bag and put it in a second bin along with your shoes and jacket if you have one. Empty your pockets into one of the little change bins. Don't put your carry-on and personal item in bins; they'll go through the scanner just fine by themselves. There's always a shortage of bins so don't be a bin-waster!

No Boarding Pass Required
You do NOT need to show your boarding pass before going through the metal detector. Once these have been checked, tuck them away.

Get Out Of The Way (My personal pet peeve!)
Once you and your stuff have made it through the scanner, gather everything as best you can and then move on. Most airports have an area right outside the screening area where you can sit down and re-pack. Use this area instead of clogging up the security lanes so that your fellow passengers can move through.

I hope this has been helpful to someone; please feel free to ask any questions and I'll answer as best I can!

Tips from a Frequent Flier

The TSA's new screening procedures have been all over the news this week. From what I've seen, a lot of people have some critical misconceptions about airport security.

*****First and foremost, even if an airport has the full body scanners (AIT, as they are sometimes called), 95% of passengers will NOT be asked to go through the scanners. If you are asked to go through the scanner, you have the option to request a pat-down instead.*****

So how can you avoid being one of the 5% that is asked to go through the extra security measures? Here are three tips, all based on my personal experience and observations as a frequent traveler.

1. Follow the rules. This is a big one. Every person I've seen pulled out for extra screening had done something wrong. For example, that tube of ChapStick in your pocket (instead of your "liquids" bag) may seem innocent to you, but to an agent that little infraction makes you a rule-breaker. And it could lead to extra security measures for you. I'll do a separate post on following the rules shortly.

2. Do not display a defiant, "They're not gonna touch me" attitude. You may not be aware of it, but you are being watched constantly while waiting in airport lines. Don't go attracting extra attention to yourself with cocky declarations.

3. Be kind and polite to every airport worker that you come in contact with. ESPECIALLY the very first person in the security protocol - the agent who checks your boarding pass and ID. That person can actually single you out for extra screening down the line. Also, these folks really appreciate it when you use the electronic boarding pass option. So use it every time you can.

More to come!