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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Airport Security

Successful navigation of airport security is all about preparing before you get to the airport, as you first learned in the "Packing and Dressing for Airline Security" section. The TSA has compiled an extensive list of items permitted and prohibited in both checked and carry-on luggage; this list is summarized in Appendix A.

Most airports require a boarding pass and a government-issued photo ID to clear security. (Children under the age of 18 do not require an ID.) If you don't have a boarding pass, you can use a ticket or ticket confirmation, such as a printed itinerary.

The challenge is to get through the checkpoint as efficiently as possible and to avoid undergoing a secondary screening. Be aware that any metal detected at the checkpoint must be identified. If you set off the alarm, you will be required to undergo a secondary screening, including a hand-wanding and pat-down inspection.

The TSA has created the pithy "IN - OUT - OFF" guideline to help you remember some basic tasks:

  • Place all metal items IN your carry-on baggage before you reach the front of the line.

  • Take your computer OUT of its carrying case and place it all by itself in one of the bins provided. Make sure that your batteries are working because you may need to turn it on.

  • Take OFF your outer coat or jacket so that it can go through the X-ray machine. (You do not need to remove your suit jacket, sport coat, or blazer—unless you are asked to do so by one of the passenger screeners.)

(Source: Transportation Security Administration)

Here are some other tips for dealing with airport security:

  • Before you get to the checkpoint, remove all jewelry and metal items from your person and place them in your carry-on bag or in one convenient location on your person. (This includes any body-piercings that might trigger the metal detector.) Nothing is more irritating than standing behind someone who is pulling PDAs, keys, change, glasses, and so on out of his coat like rabbits out of a hat.

  • Wear slip-on shoes. It's much easier to deal with slip-ons than tie-ups if you get chosen for a random screening. In addition, some security screeners require you to place your shoes on the checkpoint conveyor belt, so you might as well prepare for it.

  • Choose your shoes carefully. One of the most common ways to trigger the metal detector is to have metal shanks in your shoes. If your loafers are loaded, or you think they might be, take them off and put them in the bin on the conveyor belt.

  • If you have a medical implant or similar device, it is likely to set off the alarm on the metal detector—so bring evidence verifying your condition.

  • You can bring food through the checkpoint, but it must be wrapped. Beverages have to be in a sealable/spillproof paper or polystyrene (Styrofoam) container.

  • If you do not take your computer out if its carrying case before sending it through the X-ray machine, it will need to undergo a secondary screening.

If you have a question or complaint about airport security, contact the TSA's Consumer Response Center at 866.289.9673.

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