15 Tips to Whisk Through Airport Security
Making agony almost tolerable! That is what these tips will do to your air travel. I had been in several flights lately and if you've been through airport security checks you know that each country and even airports in the same country, have different policies.
One airport may be very strict about putting toiletry bottles (100 ml or less) in clear plastic bags that you can then put in the tray. Others could care less. How close you are to the end of the security shift may be even more important than local rules or supervisor biases.
Luck Sometimes Work in Airport Security
I was lucky in a recent trip. When the airport security who went through my bag saw my toiletries spread inside my carry-on, he got a plastic bag and just put them all in for me. In the previous airport in this multi-plane flight, security did not bother although the toiletries were not ziplocked.
Randomness, arbitrariness and mood of the terminator wannabees is the major factor. Another family member was not so lucky. The lump taking revenge on those who could afford to travel made him buy the plastic bag where he could display his toiletries accordingly. Methinks, the local ziplock wallah was undoubtedly a cousin!
What a hassle airport security has become especially for those who have to travel for work and go through security checks often. However, in the light of the recent Brussels incident, there is a calle to tighten security even more.
In some countries, they have programs where frequent travelers go through intensive personal security checks and once they get their cards for passing the process, they go through security fast lanes. This is only however offered in a few countries.
A Swift Way through Airport Security?
There is, of course, a swift way through security in some airports. It may be related to the "flagship "airline in a national capital airport.
From my experience, it only seems to happen in these circumstances so local poo-bahs are catered to. I suppose independent agreements must have been struck between those airlines and the local gate grunts. And what is this? Easy.
Purchase a first class ticket especially one with your own suite, or an executive ticket (when airlines don't separate first and business, they call the top class, Executive).
Here's another. Enrol in Global Entry Program so you go through the fast track. This program is for low risk travellers for entry into the U.S. Before your trip or if you are constantly travelling, it is best to enrol in this program.
In some airports and only with some airlines, first class passengers are escorted through a special line and whisked through immigration and customs. Singapore Airlines when you arrive in Changi airport and Thai Airways arriving in Bangkok do this for their First Class passengers.
Although a bit unpleasant for your wallet unless your company pays or you have a padded allowance from your trust fund, this is very pleasant indeed. For those lined up with cattle class tickets this is a spark plug to anger as it suggests that potential terrorists cannot afford expensive airline tickets!
For cattle class, how do you get through security with less hassle?
When you are like the rest of us cattle class refugees, there are a few ways of helping you get through airport security faster and with less stress. Stress free? Not really but, at least, with less stress, meaning your bags will not be flagged to be opened, you don't have to go through the pats or the special electronic wave-through, nor give up your precious Leatherman, Victorinox knives, German made nail cutters or Japanese scissors.
Things You can Do to Wade Through Airport Security Faster:
1. Go to the web site of the airline and airport you are flying with. They often have their guidelines for hand carried items and follow these to the letter.
2. Often, boots have to be taken off but shoes that are open just go through. Wear socks if you don't want to walk barefoot in airport floors.
3. As you line up, there are often instructions posted as to how Security wants you to organize your things and yourself such as what to place in the trays and what clothes to take off.
4. Go early for your flight so you give yourself enough time to go through security. Make sure you have your boarding pass ready and your other documents such as your passport handy in case you are asked to show them these.
5. Be attentive. Do not stare at security mouth-breathers or knuckle-walkers.
6. Watch other people ahead of you so you can make it faster and easier for the security people. It is not a fun job, though some of them can be nasty, true. I have my own share of getting angry. However, like prison guards, they are the authority for this one brief moment and they are always searching for a way to show you their power.
7. Keep yourself in control and do what is asked for. Go through your pockets. Make sure you clean them thoroughly.
Once, my husband and I went through a security check and I thought he was following so I just went straight to greet friends who were waiting for us. After several minutes, my husband had not yet come out.
Almost an hour later, there was still no husband. I thought this might be my lucky day! As it happened however, the wand rang when he went through so they searched him, but when they make him go through the check, it rang again. They vacuumed him with pockets out, but he passed through with bells ringing so he was nudged and prodded and threatened with a " full cheek check".
Finally, one searcher found a tiny bit of aluminum foil from a mint that was left in his pocket. Later, he was not clear if it was the security doof or the sniffer dog that turned up the chaff as they seemed so similar, except that the sniffers had more refined manners. So watch out for small scraps if you want to avoid an "interesting" experience.
8. Remember not to buy a bottle of wine or other liquid over 100ml at duty free when you have a stop-over in another airport and have to go through security once more to board the next plane.
I made this mistake when boarding a plane in Vancouver, Canada. I bought a bottle of ice wine to bring to a friend in Cambodia. But my plane was not going straight to Cambodia and we stopped in Singapore and went through security. I had to let go of that bottle even though I bought it at duty free in Vancouver. One passenger in front of me in the line opened his wine bottle and just emptied it in the waste can.
No more purchasing in duty free shops for me unless I am on a straight flight. So, before you let that glossy duty free airline magazine tempt you, check first your itinerary carefully.
9. What about those computers/iPads/Kindles/Blackberrys and their accompanying accoutrements/accessories and power supplies that take over our carry-on luggage? This year, I got a MacAir and it is much lighter. I can put this in my carry on purse and take it out easily. Some airports do not anymore ask to put iPads and Kindles on trays, only computers.
10. Make sure you meet all the country requirements such as passports, visas and customs regulations. If your destination requires a visa, get this before you fly. Then, you don't line up to get one when you arrive.This is only convenient if your destination has an embassy in your area.
Always bring with you extra pictures, photocopies of your travel documents, marriage certificate especially if you have different family names or staying longer and if you are bringing children, letters from the assorted parents with their permission to travel.
11. Make sure you have a transit visa in places where this is required in the course of your trip so check your itinerary. The US requires transit visas so if you don't want the hassle, avoid the US if there is any possible alternative.
12. Alcohol and cigarettes have limits and differ from country to country. Cash you can take out of a country have limits as well.
13. But hold on. Don't be hasty. In some countries there is now a program in place to facilitate entry for those who go through the process of applying and getting approved. Once you are approved you can go through the fast lane. There is hope for those who have to go through security frequently.
14. Think also about what you wear. Think wireless Ladies, so you don't ring and have to go through pats. If you have to bring all those favourite accessories, take them in your purse and wear them after you have gone through security.
15. Wear slip on shoes and beltless pants.
Indeed, there are so many things to think about now before you can take that flight.
But the less you carry with you, the better able you are to deal with the airport mafia and the faster you get through.
Maybe, think of what fits in one tray for X-ray, in one carry-on that you can easily pop on your shoulder rather than a bag that takes 2 men and a dog to put up in the plane's luggage bin. Less is faster.
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