Getting Through Security – The Planning Phase

Basic of Air Travel: Planning for Airport Security

The best way to get through airport security is to plan ahead and be prepared.  Preparation and planning start at home, and below are some good tips about the overall view of the security process.

Today, it’s about specifics, however, and how you can best plan for the process and have a mindset that will make it simple.

Think about what you are going to wear, and make sure that it’s something that can easily get through security.  Simply clothing, without a lot of metal, easily removed shoes, and minimal jewelry are good choices to get you through the metal detector.  Yes, I know that your nail-studded belt and heavy metal jewelry are gorgeous and your favorite thing to wear — BUT, it is going to hold you, and everyone behind you in line, up at the security walkthrough.  It’s just not worth the headache.

Remember the liquid rule

3 – 1 – 1.  Three ounces sized containers of liquid (or smaller), in one clear plastic Ziploc bag, per each person.  That’s is all the liquids and gels that are permitted in your carry on luggage.  Here are a few items that I frequently see people forgetting to put in their liquid bag:  toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream, and hairspray.

NOTE:  There are a lot of creative containers and packaging for gel and liquid items, and I have used a couple of them.  On my last trip, from my home airport, the TSA official emptied all the items from my pretty package and put it in a Ziploc bag, advising me that the regulation specifically said a Ziploc bag.  If this was isolated enforcement I wouldn’t mention it, but in talking with other crew members and travelers, there may be a strict interpretation of the rule occurring.  This may be just during the holidays, but I’d recommend erring on the conservative side and using a Ziploc bag.

With your pre-departure choices made wisely, and a positive mindset in place, you are now ready to actually do it — get through the security line and metal detector.  That’s the subject of my next Back to Basics post.

10 Tips to Help You Deal with Airport Security

  1. Plan to check your luggage, and pack accordingly. By minimizing what you have to take through security, you will speed up the process. Currently, no liquids, gels, lotions, etc., are being allowed in carrying on baggage. When I was re-packing my bags this morning, I didn’t think that I had many liquids, but by the time I completed the process, I realized how many things fell into this category: Hair products (shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, etc.), toiletries (shaving gel, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.), cosmetic items (creams, lotions, perfume, nail polish, and remover, etc.), and personal care items (contact solution, eye drops, nasal spray, room freshener, antibacterial wash, etc.).
  2. Arrive at the airport early. And I mean really, really, early. The wait times at Sea-Tac today were around 3 hours. Of course, it will depend on the airport, so check your airport’s website for the estimated wait time. Remember, that things can change very quickly, and that means the process could easily be longer or shorter.
  3. Have a plan for your children. If you the wait times are frustrating for adults, think of how it must be for a child. Currently, a small juice box is being allowed through security for children. That could change, but it’s a start for right now. Also make sure you bring toys, books, or something to entertain then.
  4. Keep a sense of humor. This is just good advice for life, I think. We are all in this together, and no one likes it. You can diffuse a lot of tension with a laugh, and sometimes that means laughing at yourself. No jokes, however, about contraband, weapons, or any security issue. That’s not funny, it is serious business, and may very well be a felony.
  5. If you need coffee, plan to drink it right down. After you get through security, you may be able to purchase coffee and beverages, but currently, they are not being allowed on the plane at all. You just can’t bring it with you.
  6. When you are given instructions by the TSA, airport workers, customer service agents, or flight attendants (and probably others that I’m forgetting), it’s best to just go along. These people are not trying to make your life difficult. They are responding to directives that sometimes change very quickly, and may take a while to filter down to all levels of the industry. Don’t get bogged down in making this a personal power struggle. In situations like this, you may find yourself not be allowed to board, or being removed from a flight. Decide whether you need to be right, or get to your destination.
  7. Don’t ask if there are air marshals on board the flight. This is confidential security information, and we can’t tell you. If you need this information to feel safe, you should probably fly another day.
  8. Be aware. If you see suspicious activity let someone know. This is just a good idea any day of the year.
  9. Bring along as much patience, graciousness, politeness, and understanding as you can possibly muster. Of course, it’s not fair, and yes, you are being put out tremendously. By being a pleasant person to be around, you diffuse tension, change the dynamics of a group situation, and probably live longer, too.
  10. Refuse to be a victim. I’m not afraid to fly. I do it nearly every day of my life, and while it can sometimes be a big pain in a spot in the lower part of my body, I refuse to give in to bullies. I use common sense, exercise good judgment, and remain vigilant – and I travel, both for business and enjoyment. Because life is about enjoying things, and for me that’s travel.

If you’re following on with our Basics of Air Travel series, read more about more process of plane travel below.

  1. Checking in From Home
  2. Get to the Airport on Time
  3. Checking & Carrying on Luggage
  4. Getting Through Security – Planning
  5. Airport Security – Rules & Etiquette
  6. Getting to Your Departure Gate
  7. Boarding the Plane & Stowing Your Bags
  8. Turning Off Your Electronic Devices
  9. Safety Demonstration
  10. Beverage Service
  11. Airplane Etiquette
  12. Descent
  13. Landing & Deplaning
  14. Leaving the Airport
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