We’ve all read the horror stories in the press about recent difficulties with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In spite of the stories, its important to maintain a proper perspective. While there have undoubtedly been abuses, millions of people pass through TSA checkpoints every day with only minimal annoyance.
I travel routinely and often for business. As a fairly accomplished road warrior, here are five tips to speed you through TSA checkpoints with minimal delay:
If possible, fit everything you need into one small roller bag. Its not always possible, but think creatively and see if you can make it work. Small sized overnight roller bags will now easily hold a laptop, a couple of pairs of pants and a couple of shirts. And there will still be room for some necessary papers and toiletry items. By keeping yourself to one bag – you can move much quicker through the security lines. Think creatively and find ways to travel with less. Much of what we carry is just not necessary.
Get those liquids into a bag
Get all of your liquids and gels: toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. into the bag. If TSA notices you’re trying to sneak that 15 ounce tube of toothpaste through security in your roller bag, you’ll waste precious minutes while they search your bag. And stash your liquids bag in a place where you can easily get to it. The last you want to be doing is fumbling around through 15 zippers and pockets looking for your bag because its buried under three pair of socks, and two partially eaten bags of peanuts. The folks behind you in line won’t appreciate your lack of preparation.
When you’re standing in line, waiting to get to one of those fancy grey bins – do something more than just stare mindless into space. Get that bag with liquids out and hold it in your hand. Take off your belt. Maybe unzip the slot in your bag where you store your laptop. Don’t wait until you hit the x-ray machine to start thinking about what you need to do next. When you do get to the grey bins, you’ll be ready to dump your junk and get through security.
Dump the junk in your bag
Don’t toss your assortment of small pocket-cargo (e.g. cell phone, iPod, loose change, wallet, keys, etc.) into the grey bin. If you do that, you’ll just have to waste more time on the back side of the machine putting all this junk back in your pockets. Better yet, you may forget some of it and end up donating that new iPod to the TSA. Instead, before you ever get to security, take your driver’s license out of your wallet and put the wallet in your main bag. Put your keys in your bag. Keep them there until you need them again. Put the iPhone, Blackberry, etc. into your bag. Let all this stuff go through x-ray, not in the grey tray, but in your bag. Quicker, faster, and less chance to leave something behind. In fact, don’t wait to do this until you get to the security line. Do this as soon as you get in the airport.
Do the same thing – every time
You may not fly twice a week as I often do. But it still pays to develop a routine and stick to it. Put the bag with your liquids in the same spot in your bag every trip. When you get past the initial security checkpoint, put your driver’s license and boarding pass away – in the same place every time. And you when clear security – put everything back where it belongs before you leave the security area. Don’t let the TSA agents needlessly intimidate you into moving along before you gather up everything. If they’re going to make us lose the belt and shoes, they owe us the time to get dressed again. Check to make sure you’ve got your driver’s license and didn’t drop it on the floor. Put it back in your wallet. Make sure you’ve got your boarding pass. Don’t leave security without knowing that all of your stuff is still with you. Its a major pain if you find out 20 minutes later you left your iPhone at the TSA check point.
None of these tips will get you a free pass around the body scanning machines, or help you avoid a friendly (or not so friendly) pat-down. But the better prepared you are for the security screening, the more comfortable you’ll be going through security – and then you’ll be a bit more prepared for dealing with whatever else the TSA throws your way.
Whatever be the case, there’s no denying the fact that TSA is simply doing its job and whether you like it or not, you have no choice but to go ahead with it even if it causes a little inconvenience as it is for your own good, with the threat of terrorism looming all over the world and sea Seattle Tacoma International has some of the best security measures that US airports can take pride in.