DO’s and DONT’s For Speeding Through Security Checkpoints

Condé Nast Traveler aviation correspondent Barbara S. Peterson got hired as a Transportation Security Administration screener last fall. After working for the TSA for 2 months, she wrote an insider’s piece called “My Life as An Airport Screener.”

Her fascinating expose reveals, among other things, that despite a five-year, $20 billion overhaul, the TSA is overflowing with an overtaxed (but dedicated) workforce coping with equipment shortages, budget cuts, and countless unpleasant passengers. Who knew?

After reading the piece, I was left with the thought that maybe I’ve treated TSA screeners a little unfairly over the years. I felt guilty when I read Peterson’s comment: “I was left to conclude that the screeners have become the scapegoats for failures throughout the system.” How many of us have blamed them, hurled insults at them, mocked them? Plastic bags of what size? Why do I have to remove my shoes? Check out the complete article for what Peterson’s experience was like. It’s depressing, eye-opening, and amusing all at the same time.

The article is lengthy. If you haven’t got time right now to read it, you can do it later. In the meantime, check out Peterson’s list of DO’s and DONT’s for getting through security checkpoints faster:

  • DON’T tell a screener that you are about to miss your flight (it won’t win you any sympathy and could even arouse suspicion).
  • DON’T wear clothing with metallic objects such as buckles.
  • DON’T wear lots of jewelry or hairpins that can’t be easily removed.
  • DON’T say you “forgot” you have liquids in your bag.
  • DON’T try to jam everything into one bin in a misguided effort to be helpful-it’s much harder to screen.
  • DON’T accuse screeners of theft: Once you’re certain an item is missing, speak to a supervisor.
  • DON’T tell screeners “it only comes in this size” or “it’s almost empty” when asked to surrender containers of liquid larger than three ounces.
  • DON’T tell them how much you spent on the toiletries-it won’t make any difference if they’re the wrong size.
  • DON’T block traffic by repacking your belongings on the conveyor belt.
  • DO wear easily removable shoes.
  • DO keep your boarding pass in hand.
  • DO take the plastic bag holding liquids out of your carry-on before putting it through the X-ray machine.
  • DO lay your bag on its side (the upright position is much harder to “read” and may trigger a rescreening).
  • DO put items through the X-ray machine only when you are ready to walk through the metal detector. This minimizes the time you’re separated from your belongings.
  • DO make sure that you have all items before you leave the checkpoint.

[Via World Hum; Photo: Matt McGee]