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Airport Security

Airline security is a major issue in the United States, especially following the terrorist attacks on the country that occurred on September 11, 2001. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will use various means to search your checked baggage and your carry-on baggage, as well as yourself when you go through security.

Many items, such as pocket knives, may be carried in checked baggage but not in carry-on baggage. The area of liquids is particularly sensitive, as these may potentially be used for explosive devices, For carry-on baggage, liquids like shampoo must be kept in bottle of less than 100ml (3.4 ounces). The total of liquids, aerosols and gels you carry in this manner must fit into a single one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag which you must place in a separate bin for inspection. Medications do not need to follow this restriction, but you may be asked to show your medications for inspection. What this means is that you cannot bring a bottle of water or a soft drink through security. If you want one for the flight, you will need to buy it “post-security” in the airport. Be sure that it will cost you more.

To get through security as quickly as possible, keep in mind the following procedure:

  • Leave plenty of time before your flight to go through the security procedure.
  • Have your identification papers and boarding pass handy for inspection by TSA personnel.
  • If you have a laptop computer, remove it from its case and place it in one of the plastic bins provided by the TSA for scanning.
  • Remove your shoes and belt and place them in another bin, along with your quart bag of liquids if you have one and any coins, keys or metal objects you may have in your pockets. Some experienced travelers travel with slip-on shoes for just this purpose.
  • If you are wearing a coat or jacket, you may be asked to put it in a bin for scanning.
  • Place carry-on bags and personal items like purses and computer cases on the conveyor belt for scanning as instructed by TSA personnel.
  • Wait for a go-ahead from TSA personnel before you go through the device that scans your body. Follow instructions carefully. Be patient.
  • In dealing with security personnel, “small talk” is permissible if they are not busy, but never joke about airline hijacking or terrorism.
  • If you are asked to step aside for a more thorough search, cooperate patiently, without taking personal offense at the request. Often these more thorough checks are chosen at random.

Do not become too excited or agitated about the process of going through airport security. These people are only trying to protect you. In most airports, a few seats are available after the security station which you can use to replace your shoes and otherwise “put yourself together” before proceeding to the airport gate and your flight.

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