AT HOME - Before you leave...
Before you even step out the door, make sure you’re prepared with the right clothing and the right amenities in your carry-on. Wearing your Sunday best may no longer be in vogue, but a small amount of strategy will save you time as you work your way through the long lines. Loose, simple clothing will not only make for a more comfortable flight, but it will keep you from having to peel off all of those layers at the checkpoint. Any metal decorations, such as a belt buckle or jewelry will have to be removed at the security counter. One option is to place all metal, keys and loose change is a container or plastic bag in your carry-on prior to arrival. This will help streamline your check-in process. Another key component of your wardrobe is your shoes. Plan to take them off unless you’re wearing flip-flops, otherwise a pair of slip-ons may be your best bet the next time you hit the airways.
Airport saftey officers (like TSA agents) will want a good look at anything you bring as checked baggage as well. If you choose to lock your bags, know that personnel can break the lock in order to inspect the items inside. You might avoid this by using a TSA recognized locking mechanism, which can be opened by TSA only; however, if you are traveling internationally you will still run the risk of having your locks broken for inspection purposes. A couple of rules of thumb for packing checked baggage: you may pack sporting equipment, even swords and knives, but make sure nothing is flammable or explosive. Flammable items also include alcohol, so think twice about bringing that bottle of wine back from France.
Since restrictions change often, you can check the Transportation Security Administration’s website for updates each time you travel.
Leave gifts unwrapped. They may be opened for inspection.
Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry, and accessories that contain metal. Metal items may set off the alarm on the metal detector.
Avoid excess. Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases, or camera cases. Remember, 1+1.
Place identification tags in and on all of your baggage. Don’t forget your laptop computer.
When packing your carryon luggage, it is important to layer your items. A neat layer of clothing, electronics, more clothing, and then any heavier items makes it easier for the x-ray technician to see your items properly. If you throw everything together in one bag without separating them then even the most innocent item, like a cell phone or mp3 player, can look like a possible threat in an x-ray.
Avoid, if possible, packing larger electronic items like laptops and video cameras in your carry on. If you do plan on taking these items, you will be asked to remove them from your carry-on to be sent through the x-ray machine individually.
Pack all liquids of approved size in a 1 quart clear plastic zip top bag and be sure the lids are on correctly. Not only will these prevent spills inside your carry-on, but also helps the technician to see what liquids you are carrying.
Be prepared in case of delay by arriving early, especially if you are traveling with young children or a disabled person. Most airlines suggest arriving one to two hours before departure.
Make sure you have the right ID. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that identification be shown to get through airport security and again to board the aircraft. Government issued identification is best, such as a driver's license or military ID. Some airlines also require children to have identification, such as a birth certificate. It's best to check with your specific airline to be sure.
Avoid delays by not packing your bag too tightly, allowing personnel to easily search or x-ray it. Always keep your ID and boarding pass handy, wear shoes that can easily be taken off and be ready to show that any electronic device actually works. Don't have a computer with a dead battery.
Although the TSA has a list of federal regulations, airport security is slightly different depending on the airport and the airline. Do your research before you travel.
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