5 Holiday Travel Tips for Hassle-Free Airport TSA Screenings
The Air Transportation Authority (ATA) expects that over 43 million people will be flying the skies over the holidays.
With this massive onslaught of fliers and a lot of talk about the hassle of TSA screenings, here are five tips to get you to your destination with your sanity intact:
- Arrive Early – Although this may sound like advice for a simpleton, there is nothing worse than arriving to the airport with kids and luggage in tow to only to find a massive pile-up at the security station. Better to enjoy a nice latte at the gate than stressing about missing your flight in the security line.
- Print your Boarding Passes at Home – In November of 2010, the TSA has launched the Secure Flight Program which checks your name against a government watch list. This is all done in the booking process. If you have a boarding pass in hand then you are set to go. Furthermore, already having your boarding passes will save you time at the airport.
- Plan for Carry-on Security Screening:
- Don’t bring objects through carry-on screening unless it is essential that you do so. Many things, particularly fluids, are better left to your checked baggage.
- If you do need to bring fluids, they are subject to the 3-1-1 carry-on rule. Each item can be no more than 3 fluid ounces, must be put inside a one-quart zip-lock bag, and only one zip-lock bag per person.
- Wear slip-off shoes. Untying your sneakers in the security line will hold thing up and likely get you jeers from your fellow travelers. Shoes should be placed on the conveyor belt and not in a separate bin.
- Computers and large electronic objects should be placed in a separate bin by themselves.
- Coats, belts, and all metal objects need to come off your body. Plan ahead for this. Simply have all these things in your carry-on bag to be worn later. Again, don’t be pulling these things off while at the conveyor belt. You will get ugly looks from those around you. Be prepared!
- Ship your holiday presents ahead of time. If you must bring presents on-board, don’t wrap them. Security may have to unwrap your present and then you are an unhappy traveler.
- Holiday foods can also be a problem in the security process. A jar of home-made jelly isn’t going to make it through security.
- Plan ahead for Body Scanning – everyone is going to have a body scan. It might be as simple as a walk-though metal detector, or it may be the new Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) that everyone is talking about. The on-site TSA agent is going to determine which scan you will have. If you are chosen for the AIT scan, you can opt out, but then you will be subject to a thorough pat-down. See the video above for more details.
- Family Screening Lines – most airports will have a separate line for families with small children, those with disabilities, or those with special medical situations. These lines will have far fewer people in them, but will also have far slower moving lines.
Listen dear readers, the whole key to a hassle-free trip through the airport’s TSA screening lines is to plan ahead.
For a LOT more information on TSA security screening, check out this special Helpful Hints for Holiday Travelers from the Travel Security Administration (TSA).
Plan ahead, be safe, and have fun!