Now that federal officers of the Transportation Security Administration are on the job at all 429 of our nation's airports, here is the latest advice on how to speed your way through heightened security checkpoints.
Admiral James Loy, Under Secretary of Transportation, offers these tips:
Before You Go to the Airport
- Check with your airline to determine how early to arrive. Recommended check-in times differ by airline and airport.
- Confirm which parking lots are open at the airport. Some may be closed for security reasons. You may need extra time for parking or taking the shuttle to the terminal.
- Make sure to bring a boarding pass, ticket or ticket confirmation and an ID.
- Don't bring prohibited items, such as pocket knives or scissors with you.
When You Arrive at the Airport
- If you are bringing a gift to friends or relatives, wrap it when you get to your destination. Otherwise, you might have to unwrap it to get through security-even if it is in checked luggage.
- Put all film in carry-on baggage. Equipment used to screen checked baggage will damage undeveloped film.
- Avoid wearing clothing or accessories with lots of metal because they will set off checkpoint alarms. That means such items as shoes with steel tips, clothing with metal buttons and even under-wire brassieres.
- In order to save time at the checkpoint, transfer the change, keys and cell phones you have in your pockets to your carry-on bag before you go through the metal detector.
- Pack your outer coat or jacket in your baggage when possible because those coats must go through the x-ray machine for inspection.
- Your carry-on baggage may be opened and examined on a table in your presence. Don't try to help the examiner and don't attempt to retrieve the item before the screening is complete.
- If you are traveling with grandchildren, all of their things, including toys and yes, diapers, must go through the X-ray machine. Larger children's equipment such as strollers and booster seats, must also be placed in the machine. Admiral Loy offers a warning though: Babies should NEVER be left in an infant carrier when it goes through the x-ray machine.
If you refuse to be screened at any point, the screener must deny you entry and you will not be able to take your flight.
Guidelines for Disabled Passengers
Let the screener know your level of disability such as whether you need help walking, can stand or can lift your arms.
- Tell the officer if you need help removing your shoes.
- Let the screener know about any special equipment you have or devices located on your body.
Prohibited items include weapons, explosives, incendiaries and even seemingly harmless items which may be used as weapons such as scissors or razor blades. But some items, such as nail clippers, nail files and crochet needles, initially banned after 9-11, are now allowed in carry-on bags again.
The Transportation Security Administration is serious about the ban on prohibited items. You could be prosecuted if you attempt to bring anything on the banned list through the checkpoint.