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How to Prepare for Airport Security Checks
After the 9/11 attacks in New York City, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has enacted new rules and regulations designed to protect airport security. And while these restrictions are in place to ensure passenger safety, some people will find that the time it takes to pass through airport security has more than doubled. But as frustrating as this may be, there's really no way around it – the best thing you can do is to be prepared and patient as you go through the airport security process.
Since each airport has its own policies, it's important to check with your airline before arriving at the airport. Fortunately, most airlines list all their security dos and don'ts on their website so you can easily check them ahead of time. In addition, the government has a specific set of rules that must be followed by each airline. Pay attention to the following suggestions and you should face very little delay.
Each airport has security check points you must pass through and, in some cases, it can take hours to get through all these hoops. Only passengers will be allowed through the check points, so make sure you leave enough time to say goodbye to any family members or friends before you go through the gate. Most airlines recommend that you arrive 2-5 hours early, depending on whether you're traveling domestically or internationally.
Pack one carry-on.
The TSA now limits the number of carry-on bags to one per person; in order to limit the time it takes for security to check each bag. In addition, check with your airline's size requirements before showing up at the gate – calling a regular-sized suitcase a carry-on isn't going to fly in most cases!
Make sure you leave any prohibited items at home or check them for the flight.
In general, anything that could be used as a weapon – such as knives, razors, baseball bats, or needles – should not be packed in your carry-on bags. If you attempt to bring one of these items onboard with you, you can be delayed, prosecuted for a misdemeanor, and fined up to $1,000.
Get a note from your doctor.
If you need to bring medical supplies or prescriptions on the flight, you will need to present a letter from your doctor or a written prescription. This includes prescription drugs and over the counter medications.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
This isn't only for your comfort while you're standing in the endless lines, but also so that you can easily remove your shoes at security check points. Currently, every person is required to remove their shoes and have them scanned through the X-ray machine before entering the secured passenger areas.
Make sure you have your ID.
In accordance with the new TSA rules, all adults over the age of eighteen will be required to present a government-issued ID along with their ticket before they're allowed to board the plane.
Pack travel-sized liquids.
Make sure that any liquids you're carrying with you are less than 3 oz., and that they're sealed in a Ziploc bag to prevent spills. This is required on most liquids, but there are a few exceptions to this rule – you can declare items such as baby formula or breast milk if you show them willingly to security officials.
Although these guidelines might sound like a hassle, most of the rules are based on previous attempts by terrorists to get these types of items on a plane. Because of this, the rules can change often and as needed. Therefore, you should always check for a current and updated list before arriving at the airport. What's alright today may not be alright tomorrow, so even if you flew to your destination a week ago, you should still do a quick check before traveling home.