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26/11/2008 – Holiday Season Airport Security Reminder – Part 1 of 2 : Don’t Be An Airport Thief’s Target
Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year in the United States. In the next few days 4.5 million people will take to the skies for during the Thanksgiving holiday, in the U.S., so this seemed like a good time to post a reminder on how to avoid becoming the victim of an airport thief
The majority of airport thefts happen in plain site and the majority of airport thefts happen in ‘secure’ areas. How is this possible? Flyers have a false sense of security in airports, flyers get flustered during the airport security screening process, and thieves prey on these easy opportunities.
For those traveling this Holiday Season, I’d like to offer some basic, and simple, tips to decreasing your chances of becoming the target of an airport thief.
My process for going through airport security is simple, and starts long before I get to the security area. Following is a break down of my steps
1) After checking in (or entering the airport if you have checked in at home), but before approaching the security line, empty your pant pockets of all metal, remove your phone and place them in a zippered jacker/vest pocket. After the items are in your pocket, remove your drivers license (or other valid identification) from your wallet and place it in your pant pocket. Once yourI D is removed, place your wallet in the same pocket in
the same zipper pocket. I use a zippered pocket because my jacket/vest must be removed at the airport screening checkpoint and sent through the x-ray machine.
If I am not wearing a jacket/vest I take my items out and place them in a 1-quart sized Ziplock bag and then place this bag inside my carry on baggage.
2) While in line approaching the x-ray and metal detector,remove my shoes and make your laptop accessible. If possible, fly with shoes that you can easily remove with no effort so you re not holding up the line while untying your shoes.
Sometimes there is a need to wear boots. When wearing boots, have them unlaced, with the laces tucked into the boots, so you can slip them off easily.
3) Just before approaching the x-ray ‘runway table’ pat yourself down to make sure you have not missed anything, such as keys or coins in you pockets.
4) When you get to the x-ray ‘runway table’ I take two bins, load them, and stack them until you get closer to the x-ray conveyour belt. This allows others to get their bins ready behind you, which speeds up the line for everyone.
5) The placement of you items in the x-ray scanner is an important part of the personal property security system.
The first bin through has should have your jacket/vest, shoes and ‘3-1-1’ bag. By placing these items through first you can quickly grab up your shoes and jacket as soon as you get through the metal detector. While airport thieves will reach into shoes looking for a wallet, a watch or other valuables, they will not stop to pick up my jacket, unzip the pocket and search the pocket. There is no way to do that in a quick slight-of-hand manner. This means your items are rather safe from theft.
The second bin through the x-ray is your laptop. By placing your laptop second, behind your shoes/jacket and ahead of your bags, you create a barrier between the laptop and other items coming through the scanner. Your should try and pace yourself so you will come through the metal detector around the same time as the laptop comes through and rolls out of the conveyor belt.
The third and fourth items through are carry on bags, which is technically “1 bag + 1 personal item.” If you are traveling with a bag that is likely to be stopped inside the x-ray scanner and either get a few second looks through the x-ray monitor, or get pulled off for a hand-search, the first bag through is the one least likely to get stopped by the x-ray screener. The last bag in (or only bag if I am flying with 1 bag only) is the one most likely to be stopped. By placing the bags last in line of items through the X-Ray scanner, you’ll be able to have your shoes on, your jacket on and your laptop in your hand before the bags roll out.
You should ALWAYS watch as your last bag enters the x-ray machine. You want to know personally that all your items are on their way to the “air side” of the x-ray machine.
6) As you approach the metal detector, boarding pass in hand, you should never take your eyes off the x-ray machine’s exit conveyour belt. You don’t generally need to me make eye contact with the security screener, you should watch your items only. Because you have fully patted yourself down before you even enter the security line you know you are free of anything that will set off the metal detector and you can walk through quickly and recover your items.
7) If the “air side” area of the x-ray roll-off is crowded you should stack your bins, take your bags and walk to the end of the security screening area to carefully put yourself back together. By slowly and methodically putting everything back together you can ensure you leave nothing behind, and also leave no opportunity for a thief to steam your items. An additional benefit to taking your items and getting back together away from the conveyour belt you leave room for others to enter this area and claim their items without clogging up the post-security screening area.
8 ) Grab a newspaper, find a comfortable place to sit and wait for your flight to be called
If you get selected for “secondary screening” insist on being able to claim your items, or insist on a TSA screener collecting your items and placing them in your line of sight. You have the right to do this. If this is refused, do not take your eyes off your personal property and ask for a supervisor immediately………which will almost always simply cause a screener to collect your personal property and place it in your line of sight.
By using a system, being calm, and knowing exactly what you can and cannot bring through security you’ll have no problems getting to your gate quickly.
If you are unsure of what you can and cannot bring through security in the U.S. visit www.tsa.gov The allowed/not allowed lists on the TSA web site are now generally common throughout the airport security check points in many countries.