Avoid awkward airport moments with Holiday tips

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With a chill in the air and, more noticeably, the Christmas displays in store windows, it’s a definite indicator that airport travel is about to get a lot busier.

I don’t pretend to have all the inside information when it comes to aviation travel tips. But there are a few tips that can help minimize some of the hassle.

For starters, before you even begin to pack your bags, go through them first to see if anything has been left behind from a prior trip, especially if it is a multi-purpose bag that has been used for a recent hunting or fishing trip. You would be surprised at how many people stand, with mouth agape, as the TSA agent stops the conveyor because something has been identified as a prohibited item. For example, bullets, knives, and yes, even handguns. Typically, the first words out of the passenger’s mouth are, “I forgot I used that bag to go hunting and must have left…” So, to avoid what could be an extremely awkward moment, take the time to purge your bags before packing for a flight.

Travelers today tend to dress more casually than in the past. I’ve even seen some passengers wearing their bedroom slippers! And after recently struggling at the passenger checkpoint to remove my cowboy boots, I’m thinking the slipper approach isn’t such a bad idea. However, during the winter months, we tend to layer our clothing, and when going through the checkpoint, passengers are being required to divest their shoes and outer garments. When possible, wear shoes that are easy to remove and be sure and collect all of your items after going through the screening process.

Traveling over the holidays can also mean traveling with gifts. Wrapping them before packing is not a good idea. Regardless of how the gifts are traveling – in your carry-on or checked bag – if something suspicious triggers the machine, the gift will end up getting unwrapped, and not by the potential gift recipient. Instead of traveling with gifts, consider shipping them ahead of time. Shipping also provides you the opportunity to purchase insurance in case the item is broken in transit.

As a matter of note TSA has begun deployment of full-body scanners known as Automated Imaging Technology machines to four commercial airports in Oregon beginning with Portland. Medford is slated for early December.

These new AITs are far less revealing in terms of what is displayed on the monitor. With the new Automated Target Recognition software, only a generic ‘gingerbread man’ outline is introduced as opposed to a human figure. Additionally, if nothing suspicious is triggered, the screener will only see the word “OK” on the monitor.

For more information on full body scanners, including safety concerns and how the machines operate, please go online to: www.tsa/gov/approach/tech/ait/index.shtm.

« Back to the December 2011 edition