No doubt about it…security should always be of utmost importance at airports across the country and across the globe. Screening airline passengers and baggage is essential. If only airport security lines didn’t get so long and if only the screening process could be quicker and easier…
The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, has established rules and protective measures governing air travel to safeguard air travelers, airport personnel, and airport visitors. The TSA security screening process is designed to keep us all safe, but it is not always a streamlined, fast process.
If air travelers are well prepared before arriving at a security screening checkpoint, the entire process runs more smoothly and waiting times are reduced. Think about it… whenever TSA officers have to search a suspicious carry-on bag or deal with a potential security issue, the whole process slows down for everyone. Here are a few suggestions frequent flyers have provided that may help you “fly” through the airport security screening process as quickly and expediently as possible. Visit the TSA website at www.tsa.gov for more information.
Larger electronic devices must be removed from their carrying cases or from inside other bags at the security checkpoint so the items can be screened separately. This includes any electronic device that is the size of a standard laptop or larger. Smaller devices, such as smart phones and eReaders, can usually remain inside carry-ons.
A lot of people like to lock checked luggage since it is out of their sight for long periods of time. Every piece of luggage must go through security screening, however, and there are instances when an electronic scan may suggest the need for a suitcase to be physically inspected by a TSA officer. Of course, it must then be opened. While an unlocked bag can be opened and examined without issues, one that is locked may end up damaged unless it has a TSA recognized lock, which can be opened by a TSA master key. Look for a travel lock with packaging that clearly states the lock is accepted and recognized by the agency.
Always have a valid form of identification with you and keep it easily accessible at all times. In order to pass through airport security, all adult airline passengers must have an TSA-accepted ID on their person to confirm their identity. If you forget or misplace your ID, you may still be permitted to board your flight, but ONLY if you are able to provide information that allows the TSA to confirm you are, in fact, exactly who you say you are. This may involve answering specific questions, providing contacts, and waiting while TSA officers research your identity. If TSA officers are unable to confirm your identity, you will not be permitted to fly.
There are no restrictions when it comes to carrying prescription medications on a flight as long as they are screened at the security checkpoint. In fact, the TSA highly recommends carrying prescription medications rather than packing them in checked luggage. Medication does not fall under the 3-1-1 rule, even if liquid, and does not need to be placed in the sealed plastic bag with restricted items.
If you are carrying a liquid medication with you, it is a good idea to let TSA personnel know. Liquid medications in sizable containers may require additional screening, which may mean you will be asked to open the container. Although medications have to go through a security check, they do not have to be scanned by machines. You can request to have your medication inspected by a human being instead. Leaving a medication in its original prescription bottle is often advised so the type of medication is clearly visible and the person to whom the medication is prescribed is easily identified. Many people also carry letters from their physicians outlining their health and medications in case security staff or airline personnel have any questions.
The “3-1-1” on Liquids
The TSA “3-1-1 Rule” limits the amount of liquid passengers can bring on an airplane inside their carry-on luggage. The provisions of the rule – as they apply to each passenger – are fairly straightforward. Passengers are only permitted to board a plane with liquids (including gels and aerosols, but excluding necessary medications) in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces. All containers of liquid accompanying an individual must fit inside 1 transparent, one quart plastic bag that is sealable. Each passenger is allowed to bring only 1 plastic bag of liquids on to the plane, and the bag must be able to close completely. Removing your plastic bag of liquids from your carry-on luggage in advance so it can be screened individually can expedite the security screening process.
Products considered “liquid” include, but are not limited to, shampoo, suntan lotion and sunblock, toothpaste, hair gel, hair spray, skin sanitizers, skin moisturizers, nail polish, liquid makeup, and colognes. Solid items, such as stick deodorant, compact makeups, and lipsticks, are not considered liquids and do not have to be placed within the plastic bag with your liquids. Determining what is a “liquid” and what is not can get a bit confusing. For example, a more dense lip balm may be considered “solid” and does not have to be carried inside the plastic bag. However, a gel lip balm is considered “liquid” and, therefore, should be in placed in the plastic bag.