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Tips for Speeding Up Your Airport Security Screening

Going through airport security wouldn’t be considered the highlight of anyone’s trip. If you’re not prepared, jubilation over scoring cheap flights can quickly turn to despair due to a bad experience at the airport.

All the drama that goes along with having to act quickly, pulling off belts and hats, whipping off shoes, and struggling to find an additional basket for your laptop can only topped by the TSA agents motioning that they need to pat you down.

Why?  Because you forgot you had your cell phone in your pocket or that metal clip in your hair.  It’s the smallest items that can stir up extra work for the security agents and cause more awkward moments for you.

In order to avoid the buzzer going off, it is best to avoid wearing anything metal including:

•    Metal jewelry of size
•    Metal hair clips
•    Belts with metal buckles
•    Underwire bras
•    Work shoes with metal toes (important in countries where you don’t have to remove shoes)

Empty out your pockets thoroughly.  Put your jackets in your carry-on before stepping up to the scanner, and take out anything you might have in your pockets.  It’s better to remove it all just in case it unknowingly sets off an alarm, causing a personal scan.  Remove:

•    All change and money
•    Phones and electronic devices
•    Jewelry
•    Keys

Do not carry prohibited items in your carry-on baggage.  That includes:

•    Liquids
•    Aerosols
•    Flammable items
•    Weapons, knives and other dangerous items (Duh)

Oversized clothes, hats, jackets, coats and big boots are all things that could make you appear suspicious.  Wearing these will most likely give you the chance for extra screening whether you set off the metal alarm or not.

If you’re carrying a laptop, netbook or iPad, remove it from the bag and sleeve.  Place the laptop in its own separate bin for scanning.  We all know that security standards vary by country, but it is a wise decision to do this no matter where you are in the world in order to keep the line flowing in case you’re asked to take it out.

Don’t overdo the electronics.  It is one thing to have a camera and a laptop in your carry-on bag, but to carry a laptop, a DSLR with 3 separate lenses, a tripod, an iPad and a docking station will start to draw attention.  You might be asking for an extra screening of the items in your bag with all that gear.

Be on your best behavior.  Do not talk back to agents, cause a scene, or disobey the rules. We know security checkpoints aren’t among the happiest places in the world, but a good attitude can go a long way in making the experience better for all parties involved.

Obviously with all the security measures these days, following these tips is not a fool-proof way to avoid extra screening at the airport.   It will, however, keep the line flowing quickly and everyone operating in a consistent manner on most occasions.  I find it nothing less than annoying when I’m held up at security because someone didn’t understand security etiquette.  What about you?


CC Flickr photo credit: Inha Leex Hale


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