Cut the Airport Security Lines

August 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Ever wish you could cut through those pesky airport security lines… without angering the TSA or your fellow travelers? You may be surprised to learn that there’s a legal (and polite!) way to do it, one that savvy travelers have known about for years. And we’re going to let you in on the secret.

While standing in the airport security line, you’ve likely noticed travelers entering special lines marked “Pre-Check” and zipping right through airport security and simply assumed those lucky travelers were TSA, airline, or government employees. They’re actually people who have pre-qualified for rapid screening, and can pass through the security line without waiting. In reality, many travelers qualify for the TSA’s Pre-Check program and don’t even realize it.

What is Pre-Check?

English: TSA Passenger Screening

English: TSA Passenger Screening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pre-Check is an expedited screening program created and managed by the TSA, in cooperation with US Customs and Border Protection and a select group of major airlines. Participants in the Pre-Check program are allowed to use dedicated Pre-Check lanes at participating airports. In most cases, program participants are allowed to pass through security without removing their shoes, outerwear or belt, and typically do not need to remove electronics or liquid items from their carry-on bag.

How can I participate?

The Pre-Check program is currently available to passengers traveling on Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America from participating airports. Currently, the program is eligible to frequent travelers who receive an invitation to opt-in from one of the participating airlines.

Travelers can also participate in the Pre-Check program by registering for a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account and enrolling in one of the CBP eligible programs via the Global Entry program. Once you’ve filled out the online application, you’ll need to pay a $100 fee and schedule an appointment at one of the program enrollment centers across the United States. During your appointment, you’ll be fingerprinted, have your passport verified, and be interviewed.

Don’t want to enroll?

If you’re looking for a way to bypass the long security line without enrolling in the Pre-Check program, fear not – you still have another option. For an additional fee (typically between $20 – $40) some airlines offer a VIP security lane that allows passengers to speed through a dedicated security line and board the plane before other passengers.

If you travel more than a few times a year, you may find it’s worth the time and effort to participate in the Pre-Check program. The time you save could end up being several hours worth per year, depending on where and when you typically fly.

The TSA Is Now Monitoring Passenger Behavior

July 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In this age of global terrorism, most air travelers recognize and accept the need for enhanced security measures.

Let’s hope so. For, in addition to the many indignities you endure at airline security checkpoints, your behavior is now being “monitored.”

Massive Security Line At Orlando Airport

Massive Security Line At Orlando Airport (Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik)

As reported on 4/27/11 by Kate Auletta of AOL Travel News, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed “Behavioral Indicator Officers” in 161 U.S. airports to monitor passenger’s antics while in security lines. The particular behaviors they are trained to spot include a cocky attitude, verbal expressions of displeasure at long lines, and fearful or impatient looks.

Auletta indicated that ” … the immigration agent who stopped the so-called 20th 9/11 hijacker recalled that his behavior was ‘arrogant.’ The TSA modeled this program off that argument and other conversations with would-be hijackers.”

On their website, the TSA describes the Behavior Detection Officer’s duties as “screening travelers for involuntary physical and physiological reactions that people exhibit in response to a fear of being discovered. TSA recognizes that an individual exhibiting some of these behaviors does not automatically mean a person has terrorist or criminal intent. Individuals exhibiting specific observable behaviors may be referred for additional screening at the checkpoint to include a hand-wanding, limited pat down, and physical inspection of one’s carry-on baggage.”

Predictably, many civil liberties advocates strongly oppose this practice, and question its effectiveness. Michael German of the ACLU called it “anti-American.” And national security analyst Peter Bergen told CNN that “it doesn’t make any sense to me.”

However, while the politicians and security experts continue to hammer this out, it also means that everyday travelers will have to put a check on their impatience and their annoyance at waiting in longer lines. While it might make you feel better to voice your frustration, just remember that it may be misinterpreted, and give you some unwanted extra attention.

Ways To Get Through Security Checkpoints Faster

May 24, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

With the increasing popularity of carry-on bags — both due to their convenience and the fees airlines now charge for checked bags — the passenger screening process has become very time consuming.

TSA Checkpoint - Orlando, FL

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to prepare properly. Here are several proven ways to get through security checkpoints quickly:

  • Make sure you comply with the TSA’s “3-1-1” rule, which allows travelers to carry-on one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag containing 3.4 ounce (100 ml) bottles of the gels and liquids. Simply place the quart-sized bag in the screening bin which airport security X-rays. If you don’t use a 3-1-1 bag to separate your liquids, you risk having security personnel hand-inspect your carry-on which wastes time and could result in some items being confiscated.
  • Always use a Travelpro “Checkpoint Friendly” computer case when traveling with a laptop. Instead of having to handle your computer before and after scanning, you simply unzip the back of the case, lay it flat on the conveyer, zip up the case once it’s passed through the scanner, and proceed to your gate. These highly engineered cases feature a padded sleeve compartment which accommodates most 17″ laptops and — though they hold it during the X-ray process — they meet the Transportation Security Administration’s regulations regarding computers not being in direct contact with other objects while being scanned.
  • Pack all metal objects (watch, cell phone, loose change, etc.) in your Travelpro rollaboard, which eliminates your need to handle them at the security checkpoint.
  • Be sure to pack light, so you minimize the amount of luggage you must pass through security.
  • Always wear “slip on” shoes. Nothing slows you down more than having to untie and retie your shoes while being jostled by fellow travelers.
  • Survey the gate check lines, and avoid getting behind groups likely to take excessive time getting through the checkpoint (mothers traveling with small children, for example).
  • If you’re traveling with children, make sure they’re dressed and packed properly. A few minutes of pre-trip planning can eliminate lengthy checkpoint delays.

Long security lines are undoubtedly here to stay. But by following these simple guidelines, you can reduce your time at airport checkpoints by 25% or more.

Photo credit: mrkathika (Flickr)

Carry On Luggage Clogs Security Checkpoints

May 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The convenience of Travelpro luggage is no longer the only reason why more and more travelers are carrying on their bags.

The fees most airlines charge for checked bags are also contributing to this trend. So much so that security checkpoints are becoming overwhelmed with passengers shepherding their carry-ons through the scanners.

English: TSA Passenger Screening

English: TSA Passenger Screening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Christine Negroni’s article in the March 31 issue of the Miami Herald (Huge Hike In Carry-Ons Clogging Airport Security), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) estimated that passengers carried on 59 million more bags in 2010 than in 2009. This “luggage deluge” worries the U.S. Travel Association, which reported that airport screeners cannot keep up and that overall security could be diminished.

Congress may become involved. In a recent hearing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was asked by Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu whether the airlines should be directed to contribute some of their bag fee revenue (over $6 billion in the past four years) to provide additional security.

As the debate over staffing, equipment and funding continues, Negroni reported that TSA spokesman Greg Soule denied that security was being compromised. “The number of bags brought to the checkpoint may affect passenger wait times,” Soule said, “but not the level of security we provide, which is our priority.”

Checked bags fees have become the airlines largest source of ancillary revenue, and a key contributor to their profitability in this age of $100+ barrel oil. Only two major airlines, JetBlue and Southwest, don’t currently charge for checked bags, a fact they heavily advertise in order to win business.

So how could the government and the airlines work together to alleviate the bottleneck at security checkpoint lines?

According to Negroni , the U.S. Travel Association suggested that the Department of Transportation require airlines to include one checked bag in their base ticket price, and strictly enforce the number and size of bags passengers are allowed to carry on.

The Airline Transport Association quickly dismissed this proposal, saying it “diminishes customer choice and competitive differentiation among carriers.”

The issue likely won’t be resolved soon. In the meantime – whether you’re checking your bag or carrying it on – make sure it’s a Travelpro Rollaboard.

Make Your TSA Screening Go More Smoothly

January 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Airport security screenings have been getting a lot of negative publicity lately. This has lead the flying public to look for ways to make the process as painless as possible. Travelpro has several suggestions for doing just that.

First and foremost, be courteous to and cooperate with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel. These professionals are responsible for ensuring that terrorists don’t board a plane armed with items that could be used to destroy it.

Remember, your agent doesn’t enjoy full body scans and enhanced pat-downs any more than you do. These approaches have been proven effective in identifying hidden, lethal materials, and are now required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and TSA.

Secondly, make sure you’re fully prepared for the security checkpoint process. According to the TSA’s website, certain clothing and accessories can set off metal detectors. Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry or other accessories that contain metal when traveling through the security checkpoints:

  • Heavy jewelry (including pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyards or bolo ties).
  • Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs.
  • Metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration.
  • Metal belt buckles.
  • Metal under-wire bras.

Hidden items such as body piercings may result in your being directed to additional screening for a pat-down inspection.

Take metal items such as keys, loose change, mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs) out of your pockets. Place heavy jewelry and other metal items in your carry-on baggage or in plastic bags until you clear security.

Also, be sure to comply with the TSA’s “3-1-1” rule, which allows travelers to carry-on one quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag containing 3.4 ounce (100 ml) bottles of the gels and liquids.

Finally clear your carry-on bag of excessive clutter. This lets Transportation Security Officers get a clean, X-ray image of its contents.

Enhanced airport security measures are here to stay. Being polite and prepared is the best way to deal with them.

Photo credit: Oddharmonic (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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