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May 20, 2012

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5 Tips to Ease Your Way Through Airport Security in the USA

by Jason Dutton-Smith
View from aircraft window

Air travel can sometimes be stressful. You find yourself in a new country, with new rules and often left to navigate on your own around airports the size of several football fields. Here are five quick tips to get you flying on a domestic flight within the USA.

1 – Allow enough time

The best way to avoid airport stress is to arrive early as check-in and airport security lines are often long. To expedite your way through the airport, check in online inside 24 hours of your flight’s departure. Most hotels offer free computers for online check in where you can print your boarding pass and make a seat selection. If traveling through a major airport it’s always a good idea to arrive at the airport two hours before departure, especially during peak travel times. When arriving at the airport simply drop off your bags, show your ID and make your way through security and on to the gate.

2 – Liquids on board

You may be familiar with the Australian rules regarding liquids on board when traveling internationally. These same rules apply for domestic travel within the USA. The Number one rule? Liquid containers carried in the cabin must be 100 ml or less and placed in a clear ziplock bag for inspection. Be sure to have this ziplock bag handy as you will need to remove it from your carry-on and send it through the x-ray machine separately. Most supermarkets now offer a wide range of travel accessories for carry on purposes – everything from toothpaste and shampoo to deodorant and moisturizer. You’ll be sure to find an even wider range of carry on size products in U.S. stores.

3 – Security: ID, shoes, belts, liquids….and more!

Here are some important points to remember. The First part of the security check point is an ID check. You will need to present your ID and boarding pass to the TSA officer for inspection as only confirmed passengers are permitted beyond the security checkpoint. Then make your way to the scanning / x-ray area. This is where a flurry of activity takes place. First, place the contents of your pockets inside your carry-on bag for x-ray as these items will interfere with the body scanning machines. This will then be a good time to remove from your carry-on the ziplock bag of liquids as they will need to be x-rayed separately. Belts, jackets and hats should also be removed for x-ray, as well as your shoes – yes, your shoes – so be sure to wear socks if you’re uncomfortable with walking through the security check point with bare feet (like me!). Lines can be long so be patient and listen to instructions and it should all be a breeze.

4 – Body scanners; not what you think

Body scanners are a much needed development in airport security and are quick, easy and absolutely non intrusive despite some negative media. After sending your shoes, liquids and other belongings through the x-ray machine simply step inside the scanner, place your hands above your head, and the scan will be completed in approximately 2-5 seconds. That’s it! On the other side you can see your image which is basically a stick figure – nothing see through, nothing sinister what so ever. Even though it’s an x-ray of your body there is no more radiation risk then that of your mobile phone. In my opinion it’s quicker and easier than the traditional metal detector.

5 – Patience

Security is an important element in air travel and understandably something that is taken very seriously in the U.S.A. When going through this process a little patience will go a long way. Remember the above tips to ensure smooth flying within the USA. Pack a smile and have a wonderful trip!

Have some more tips to make airport security a breeze? Leave a comment below and let me know. 

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