So, security has been heightened (to say the least) at all of the airports in the US. This is going to make traveling a lot more difficult than ever before. I’ve listed some tips below, and will post some Airport Games as well.
Before you start for the airport, take a patience pill. And a calm pill. If you’re allergic to dogs, take an antihistamine pill. And, yes, even a generosity pill. We’re all going to have to work together, and play together, to get through this.
Where to get Information
For more information, you can check the following Web sites: (These are also references for this wu.)
- Federal Aviation Authority: www.faa.gov
- Department of Transportation: www.dot.gov
- Department of State: www.travel.state.gov
Before going to the airport check www.fly.faa.gov to see if your origin, layover and destination airports are open. Also check your airlines’ web page to see if the flight is still scheduled (may be unreliable).
- Must have photo ID to get into gate areas.
- Must have ticket or proof of ticket to get into gate areas.
- No knifes or blades of any kind, including on key rings.
- Must arrive earlier at airport (check with airline to find out how early)
- No more curbside check-in
- Luggage search at front counter check-in.
- Security personnel in all parts of airports, possibly with dogs.
- Plane searches prior to take-off.
- Armed US Marshals on flights.
- Potential for delays or random flight departures.
Security personnel are now opening and inspecting luggage. To make it easier, get a clear plastic toiletries bag and some other clear plastic bags. Pack non-clothing items in the plastic bags – this way the inspectors can inspect your bag faster (hopefully!). The whole name of the game under the new restrictions will be trying to keep everything moving as quickly as possible while allowing security to be thorough. Anything we can do to help will probably be appreciated.
Carry-on luggage may be restricted. In some cases, I’ve heard that carry-ons are not allowed. Make sure you have a “Plan B” where medicine, jewelry, and necessities for the first 24 hours can be put in your pockets in the event that you do need to check your carry-on. If you carry a laptop and are financially responsible for it (yes, this is something you need to directly ask your employer) then buy insurance for it now. If you’re lucky and have big pockets, you may be able to take the hard drive out and put it in a pocket for the flight.
See here for some packing tips. The airlines are now asking that you minimize both checked and carry-on baggage.
The limitation on carry-on luggage will present special problems for women. You know how the outfits that look best have no pockets? Well, don’t wear these for travel anymore. Wear clothes that have as many pockets as possible. (Sorry that you won’t look so good on the plane, but really, have you ever sat next to the handsome doctor? No, in fact you’re always sitting next to the person who is sized such that they should have two seats and has the breath of a cat who likes rancid sardines.)
All types of knives are now disallowed, including that tiny knife on your key ring. You’ll have to take it off and put it in your checked luggage. If you want to be nice to the inspectors put it in a mesh pocket or a plastic bag. Make sure you can find it quickly if you are asked to show it.
To the Airport!
The FAA is recommending that you call your airline to find out how early before your flight you need to arrive at the airport. Here in Charleston they are recommending 3-4 hours. Ouch. See Airport Games for ideas of how to spend your free time at the airport.
Why will you need something to sit on? Because no airport has enough chairs for the number of passengers who will now be waiting in the gates for flights. I’d recommend a plastic bag – just something to keep your clothes from getting dirty on the floor.
Curb-side baggage checking is now disallowed. For some, I know, this will be a problem. Personally, I have a bad back and my local airport does not provide transportation between the long term parking area and the main building. Ouch. So, if you’re going to have similar issues, it may be better to take a train, bus or taxi to the airport.
Overall, while you’re at the airport, watch your actions, attitudes, and belongings. IF you leave a carry-on unattended, even for a minute, chances are it will be taken away and detonated. So keep your stuff with you all the time. Don’t make jokes with a) ticket agents, b) security personnel, and c) flight crews. Everyone is on edge, and most of these people never had a sense of humor to begin with. Feel free to laugh and have fun with fellow travelers though!
As usual, you’ll need a photo ID. In addition, you’ll need either a paper ticket or paper proof of your electronic ticket such as a print out of you web confirmation, an itinerary from your travel agent, etc.
Someone will probably open and search your luggage before you check it. This is where having everything in clear plastic bags will help things move faster. Also, there will be security personnel wandering around the airport, free to stop, question and search anyone at random. Be patient and polite; don’t joke with them.
There may be police dogs patrolling the concourses. While we hope the dogs are trained to sniff out bombs and weapons, they may have been recruited from the drug force. So, if you normally carry illegal drugs with you when you travel, don’t do it now! Do not carry anything that may have picked up the smell of drugs. No need to attract those nice dogs and their police officers. Even if you’re carrying just one joint, if the security staff is bored, it will be a very big deal.
At the Metal Detectors
You will need a ticket and a photo ID to get into the Gate areas. So, if you’re e-ticketed, you’ll have to stop at the front desks anyway to get your boarding pass before going to the gate.
Boarding the flight
I don’t think they’ve changed the boarding procedure. However, Security staff may inspect the cockpit, luggage holds, and cabin prior to takeoff. Be prepared for delays here too.
Finally, don’t drink. I know this may be impossible for some, but trust me; the airport is not a good place to drink. First, it increases the rate of dehydration that you will experience during your flight, thus making you more susceptible to colds, flues, etc.. Second, alcohol brings down many of our natural barriers and a small annoyance can easily develop into feelings of rage.
Good luck to all! And here’s to hoping I get to play Pictionary with you some day while waiting for a flight!