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Airport Security Screening System : Get Through Security With Ease & Safety

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com — E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

21/05/2008 – Airport Security Screening System : Get Through Security With Ease & Safety

After appearing on Good Morning America yesterday with tips on how to get safely and efficiently get through an airport security check point I received a number of e-mails asking me to detail my process. 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 i checked in at home), but before approaching the security line, empty my pant pockets of all metal, remove my phone and Blackberry and place them in a zippered jacker/vest pocket. After my items are in my pocket I remove my drivers license from my wallet (unless I am using a Passport for ID) then place my wallet in the same 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 (usually a North Face Denali) 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 I remove my shoes and make my laptop accessible. I usually fly with shoes I can kick off with no effort so I am not holding up the line while untying my shoes.

Sometimes I need to wear boots, when I wear boots I have them unlaced at the same time I unload my pant pockets of metal and enter the security line with them loose on my feet.

3) Just before I approach the x-ray ‘runway table’ I pat myself down to make sure I have not missed anything, such as keys or coins in my pockets.

4) When I get to the x-ray ‘runway table’ I take two bins, load them, and stack them until I get closer to the x-ray conveyour belt. This allows others to get their bins ready behind me, which speeds up the line for everyone.

5) The placement of my items in the x-ray scanner is an important security system for me.

The first bin through has my jacket/vest, shoes and ‘3-1-1’ bag. By placing these items through first I can quickly grab up my shoes and jacket as soon as I 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 my items are rather safe from theft.

The second bin through the x-ray is my laptop. By placing my laptop second, behind my shoes/jacket and ahead of my bags, I create a barrier between the laptop and other items coming through the scanner. I also generally pace myself so I 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.” Since I often travel with bags that are 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 in last I am able to have my shoes on,my jacket on and my laptop in my hand before the bags roll out.

I ALWAYS watch as my last bag enters the x-ray machine. I want to know personally that all my items are on their way to the “air side” of the x-ray machine.

6) As I approach the metal detector, boarding pass in hand, I never take my eyes off the x-ray machine’s exit conveyour belt. I don’t generally make eye contact with the security screener, I watch my items only. Because I fully pat myself down before I even enter the security line I know i am free of anything that will set off the metal detector and I can walk through quickly and recover my items.

7) If the “air side” area of the x-ray roll-off is crowded I stack my bins, take my bags and walk to the end of the security screening area to carefully put myself back together. By slowly and methodically putting everything back together I can ensure I leave nothing behind, and also leave no opportunity for a thief to steam my 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 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.

Happy Flying!

–Click Image To Enlarge–
a group of people packing luggage

One Comment

  1. I have not seen “secondary screening” at the gate done for some years now. One of the last times I went through such screening, the two TSA folk took my wallet full of receipts (this was on the return leg of a trip) and cash and decided to go though everything in my wallet out of my sight. When I moved so I could at least partly see what they were doing, one of them turned and screamed at me that I must get back around to where I could not see RIGHT NOW!!! There was no supervisor around since this was at the gate, and if they could easily have caused me to miss my flight if I did not comply. I got my wallet back with cash and receipts and credit cards all somehow jambed back into it. Don’t think I lost anything, but how can I be sure?

    I emailed the TSA to complain as soon as I got home. I should not have wasted the time writing as they never acknowledged my email, or responded in any way.

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