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Tips on how to be airport security savvy

by Liz Fleming's Travel Tales
April 8, 2010

Changes in airport security regulations have made the process of getting from ticket counter to gate both time consuming and frustrating.  Since it's unlikely that the rules will relax anytime soon, here's a shortlist of things you can do to make your progress through the line as simple as possible.

Keep your liquids + gels in a plastic bagTips to help you breeze through airport security

Cooperate.  The security personnel are no more thrilled by the tightened regulations than you are - less, in fact.  Their jobs have become significantly more difficult and hearing that you think the rules they're paid to enforce are stupid won't make anyone any happier.  Accept that you and your bags will be searched thoroughly, no matter how pressed you might be for time - that's all there is to it.

Give yourself a time buffer.  It's easier to be cooperative and patient if you aren't feeling pressed for time and worrying that you won't make it to your gate before your flight leaves.  For a domestic flight, give yourself at least two hours and leave no less than three hours to wend your way through the security process for an international flight - particularly any that go through the U.S.

Be efficient with the plastic bins.  You'll need one for your laptop and another for your shoes, belt, jacket, sunglasses etc.  Don't put your carry-on bag or purse in a plastic bin - those have to go directly on the conveyor belt.  Note: At some airports, your shoes have to go on the conveyor belt and not in the plastic bin.  When in doubt, ask or watch the person ahead of you.

Don't wear clothing with metal accents such as large buttons or substantial zippers.  It's surprising how little metal will set off the detectors and cause you extra 'search' time.  Be sure to wear slip-on shoes and jackets that can be easily and readily removed. 

Have your liquids and gels in the approved, one-litre clear ziplock bag.  Take it out of your carry-on and put it in the plastic bin before the security people ask to see it.

Two things you shouldn't put in the bin are your passport and boarding pass.  Keep those in your hands at all times as you pass through security and don't forget to put them safely in your carry-on bag before you sit down to put your shoes back on.   There's nothing worse than getting to your gate and discovering that you've left your passport and boarding pass behind.

Before you leave for the airport, be sure to check your purse and pockets for any 'forgotten' metal.  Nail clippers, penknives, tweezers will all be confiscated if they show up in the security scanner.  Note:  if you forget and have left enough time, you can mail small metal items home to yourself.  Ask at the airport convenience kiosks, many of which sell envelopes and stamps. 

Be considerate of your fellow travellers and make every effort to keep the security lines moving.  Take your shoes off and have them in your hand before you reach the head of the line and have your laptop in a zippered compartment where it can be easily removed.   Have your boarding pass and passport ready for inspection before you're asked for it and, once you've cleared security, moved away from the conveyor and table.  There are always seats and benches just beyond the security area where you can sit down and take your time to put on your shoes and belt and repack your laptop. 

Going on a holiday? Check out the Trip Builder where you can request a quote local travel agents who are waiting to offer you custom prices on your trip.

Liz Fleming is an award-winning Canadian travel journalist who specializes in adventure, health and wellness and learning travel. For more from Liz, go to: Liz Fleming's Travel Tales

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Liz Fleming's Travel Tales

Liz Fleming writes a weekly travel column for so be sure to check in for articles on everything from soft adventure to learning travel!

Located: St. Catharines Canada
Likes: soft adventure, health and wellness, learning

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