Ten tips to make your trip through the airport security checkpoint easier on everyone
By Scott Carmichael, Gadling Travel Editor
Flying can be a stressful way to spend your day, especially if you only fly once or twice a year. Reports of terror attempts and airport evacuations don’t make things any better. Thankfully, if you follow some simple tips, your trip through the checkpoint can be really simple, allowing you more time to enjoy the dreadful airport food, or to waste your money at the airport duty free shop.
We’ve gathered ten tips that can make your checkpoint experience as stress-free as possible. Not just for you, but for the hundreds of others trying to make it to the other side of the checkpoint at the same time.
Are you an “amateur” traveler? Were you allowed to carry box cutters and knives the last time you took a flight? Then chances are you are not up to date on the latest airport security rules. It is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, a prepared traveler is a rare breed, so consider yourself lucky that you are showing an interest in it.
The best starting point (other than this article) is of course the TSA web site. Their “what to know before you go” has the nitty-gritty on airport security, prohibited items and of course their own tips on getting through security as efficiently as possible.
Invest in a Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag
If you regularly pass through the checkpoint with a laptop, do yourself a favor and invest in a checkpoint friendly laptop bag. These bags are specially designed to fold open, allowing the x-ray machine a clear unobstructed view of your computer. They cost about 25% more than a normal laptop bag.
The advantage of a TSA friendly laptop bag is obvious – you don’t need to take your laptop out of its bag, greatly reducing the risk of damage. It also shaves about 30 seconds off your trip through the checkpoint. A good place to find a large assortment of checkpoint friendly bags is Mobile Edge. This company makes stylish bags for men and women, with bags starting at just $49.95.
Before you even think about stepping into the security line, frisk yourself. Really – run your hands up and down all your pockets, front and back. Remove anything metallic, and you’ll reduce the risk of missing that loose change or pocket knife. Don’t just assume the metal detector will find it for you.
Find the right line
Many airports have introduced separate TSA lanes for the different kind of traveler. The black or diamond lane is for the experienced traveler. These lanes won’t have as many staff members assisting you. The casual traveler lane may have someone helping point out the bins, and the family/medical liquid lane is where you’ll get the most help. Especially if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to pick the green lane. Sadly, not all airports have adopted this system.
The lanes are not a contest – don’t worry if you need to go to the casual traveler lane, because picking the right lane will make life easier on you, and your fellow passengers.
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