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Smoother Sailing through Airport Security

If you hate going through airport security, here are a few ways you can make the experience less irritating…

  1. Keep cool during security screenings. Especially since 9/11, no passenger is immune from what may seem like annoyingly invasive searches, at the airport security screening area, the ticket counter, and at the gate before check-in. The best thing you can do is grin and bear it — otherwise you will arouse suspicion and raise the ire of everyone behind and around you. Keep in mind that a one-way ticket means you are more likely to be taken aside for questioning.
  2. Don’t carry items that set off metal detectors. All kinds of items that may seem unassuming can set off the detectors and cause delays — and possibly inconvenient searches. Items to be aware of include keys, belt buckles, loose change, watches and jewelry, pens, metal collar stays, button-fly jeans, nail clippers, shoe shanks, and steel-toe boots.
  3. Don’t worry about x-ray machines damaging your computer. Because airport X-ray machines do not create a magnetic pulse, they should not harm computer equipment, videocassettes, audiotapes, exposed film, or other gear. Keep in mind, however, that although state-of-the-art scanners won’t harm computer hard drives, there’s a chance that an outmoded scanner (like those in small overseas airports) might have an effect. Request hand inspection when in doubt.
  4. Walk through security with empty pockets. Carrying change, pens, cell phones, portable stereos, and other equipment through security only causes unnecessary delays and increases your likelihood of being frisked or searched thoroughly. Place all these items inside your carry-on bag before approaching security.
  5. Wear slip-on shoes when flying. Avoid boots or high-top shoes and sneakers. Shoes that are big or high enough to potentially conceal a weapon are a red flag when passing through airport security. You’ll often be delayed and asked to remove your shoes, and possibly to undergo a full search of your clothing and luggage. Simple sneakers that slip off are the ideal traveling apparel for feet.
  6. Don’t leave home without a government-issued photo ID. Airlines strictly enforce the requirement that every traveler have one. A driver’s license works; some travelers feel more secure with a passport, even if all their travels are domestic. As solid identification, you can do no better. On international trips, a passport is mandatory.
  7. Book your ticket using the name on your ID. Just married? If you were ticketed using your spouse’s last name but your ID remains in your maiden name, bring your marriage license to back up your explanation. Does the name on your ID differ from a nickname or middle name you prefer to be called? Avoid hassles and make sure that the ID matches the name on your ticket or e-ticket confirmation.
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