Packing Food for Air Travel

August 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you trying to stay on track with that new diet you’re on, but you have a business trip, and the thought of running the food court gauntlet without getting tripped up by some tempting food has you considering quitting? Do you have a dietary restriction that makes finding allergen-free food in the airport next to impossible?

Have you considered packing some snacks or meals to eat while you fly? You can take food through the TSA security checkpoints, you just have to know what food falls under its liquid restrictions — the 3-1-1 rule —and pack accordingly.

Although water bottles or other beverages must not exceed 3.4 ounces, don’t automatically assume you can’t bring items such as packets of nut butters or salad dressing. Just be sure the amount you’re bringing through security is less than 3.4 ounces/100ml. The liquid restrictions also apply to ice and gel packs as well, so be sure to time your arrival at the airport so those frozen food products are still frozen solid.

Peanut butter is not a good food to take during air travel, unless you pre-make your sandwichesItems listed by TSA as liquids include:

  • Nut butter (squeeze packs included)
  • Jam/jelly
  • Yogurt
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Creamy cheese
  • Salsa
  • Soups

That means you can’t bring more than 3.4 ounces of these items through security. You can see the complete list here.

The following foods are not listed in TSA’s guidelines for food, but should be taken only if you don’t mind risking their loss because a screener uses his or her discretion:

  • Pudding/Jell-O
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit cups with syrup

Other foods you prepare at home, such as sandwiches, salads, and snacks, do not have to adhere to the same restrictions as liquids, as long as there’s nothing too liquid or gel-like in them. For those who are serious about meal prep and frequent travelers, there are some totes designed to keep food cold during travel.

You don’t have to lose the battle of the bulge or resign yourself to getting sick from accidental allergen exposure because you’re flying. With a little knowledge and some planning, you can stay healthy while work takes you to the skies.

Do you travel with your own food? How do you make sure you’re staying healthy or avoiding problems on the road? Share your ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Piccolo Namek (Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License)

Business Travelers Can Continue to Carry Laptops in their Carry-On Luggage

July 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The United States Department of Homeland Security has ended a four month ban on laptops in carry-on luggage on U.S. bound flights from the Middle East and North Africa. The ban was originally enacted because terrorism experts were concerned that explosives could be concealed in electronics as large as laptops and mobile tablets. It affected ten airports and nine airlines that are based in the Middle East.

The King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was the final airport to have the ban lifted, after they and the other airlines and airports implemented new security measures designed to check for explosives in the large electronics.

Officials visited the ten airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, and confirmed that the security measures were in place.
Business travelers on Etihad Airways and other Middle East airlines were concerned about a laptop ban.
The airports originally affected include Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah, Saudia Arabia; Riyadh, Saudia Arabia; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, UAE; and Abu Dhabi, UAE. The carriers most heavily impacted by this ban were Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia, and Turkish Airlines.

A ban on the citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen still remains in place, although several U.S. court hearings are challenging those restrictions.

The aviation industry has been trying to come together with a united message to governments and stakeholders about regulation and supporting the industry,” Will Horton, senior analyst at Australian aviation consultancy CAPA, told Reuters.

The ban was nearly expanded to cover all flights into the U.S. from the Middle East and Europe, which had international business travelers concerned. Since many business travelers have long been practitioners of “carry-on luggage only” travel, this could have had serious ramifications on business travel in general.

Instead, the U.S. accepted new security and screening measures from the airports in Europe and Middle East, other than the original ten airports, thus preventing the expanded ban. And now that the U.S. has lifted their ban on the remaining airlines, business travelers can continue to carry their laptops and tablets in their carry-on luggage.

That was a bit of a close call for business travelers, but we can remain productive. We’ve also talked about how to function without a laptop, should a similar ban return. How would you cope if the ban were instituted? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Alex Beltyukov (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)

TSA May Require Additional Screening for Additional Items at Airport

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As if we weren’t already in the throes of the busiest season for traveling, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it might require more items to be removed from your carry-on luggage during screening. For the past 18 months, TSA has been testing how to make it easier for its officers to consistently view what’s in the bags they screen daily.

According to Wall Street Journal “Middle Seat” columnist Scott McCartney, the X-ray machine color codes the items inside the bag based on the density, and the more tightly packed the bag is, the harder it is for all its contents to be identified. That makes it difficult for screeners to identify the items within the bag.
TSA Bag Check
TSA officials have been considering having all electronics, food, and paper added to the list of items that must come out of every carry-on during screening. Why food? Certain items, such as chocolate, are dense and mimic the shape of explosives, often creating the necessity of a second look, just to be sure. Paper, including books and notepads, obscures other things, forcing the screener to tag a bag for a manual check that slows the line.

If you haven’t heard us sing its praises before, all these measures give us another reason to urge frequent travelers to invest in TSA’s Precheck. According to the TSA, the removal of these additional items would only apply in regular screening lines.

What should you do if you can’t afford Precheck and want to make sure your bag doesn’t get tagged for a manual search? Think through your packing strategy and be organized.

Store items that you already know need to be removed in the easy-to-access exterior pockets of your luggage. Consider electing to pull out that special chocolate bar you purchased at a gourmet shop as a souvenir so that it can be screened in plain sight in a separate bin with your jacket or shoes. Have a specific place you always store that favorite book or notepad you plan to use to help you pass the time onboard.

While these additional items haven’t been added to the official list, thoughtful packing before you arrive at the airport will help you develop a few habits that could save you some time and avoid unwanted hassle if the list is expanded.

How will these new rules, if they go through, affect you? Are you an electronics-only traveler, or do you carry a lot of paper and food as well? Let us hear from you in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Bradley Gordon (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Top 5 Alternatives if the Laptop Ban Goes Into Effect

July 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re attached to your laptop with an emotional umbilical cord, you may need to plan how you’re going to survive the separation that may be forced upon us all if the Department of Homeland Security’s current laptop ban is broadened to include more U.S. bound flights from more Middle East and European countries.

In March, the U.S. banned laptops on flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey to prevent bombs from being taken aboard flights inside laptop computers. They nearly expanded it to all U.S.-bound flights, but have instead created some additional security screen protocols instead.

But if you’re still coming from one of the check-your-laptop countries, you’re going to be without your laptop for a long stretch of time. So here are some ways to survive those laptop-less flights, especially with your mobile phone. (Because tablets are included in the laptop  ban too.)

You could just carry a couple books with you if there's ever a laptop ban.

  • Read offline. There are multiple apps that can be used to allow you to read all kinds of books and articles on your phone, no laptop necessary. Consider the Kindle app for those books you would’ve accessed on your e-reader. Try Pocket or Flipboard to save articles and read them later, or use Evernote to save almost anything or review notes you created at a meeting and need to digest. And there’s always a physical book, magazine, or newspaper you could bring with you. When was the last time you actually read something on real paper?
  • Speaking of paper, invest in a notebook. Thinking through an issue by jotting notes about it might actually turn out to be as productive as typing. It will force your brain to slow down, and who knows what genius moments might come of that? You can also use the notebook to make a list of things you need to do. Or you might write the beginning scene of the next great American novel. Remember doodling? It’s still a thing.
  • Update your security. Yes, you’re loathe to check your laptop because you don’t want to lose it. So do what you can to protect your device: change your passwords, encrypt your hard drive, and backup your data. Take a hard look at whether or not you can travel without your laptop altogether. You might be able to borrow a company laptop and upload pertinent files to it using a flash drive. You might choose to purchase a “burner laptop” of sorts, a very inexpensive model that would only have data specific to the trip on it. That way if it’s lost, you don’t lose everything.
  • Think through the work that needs to be done that you can’t do on your laptop. You know, that list you’ve made somewhere that you never get to because you’re tied to your screen? Now’s your chance to catch up on that. Print out reports to read, manuscripts to edit, or data to analyze, and work from paper during your trip.
  • Get a few items to convert your phone into a temporary laptop if you just can’t endure all those hours without it. Purchase a portable keyboard so you can respond to those important emails, assuming you can read what you’re typing on that tiny screen. You’ll also need something to refresh your battery since you’ll be burning through it being productive. Ventev has one that’s both a charger and a stand. And if you want to make sure your seat mate doesn’t snoop while you work, buy a screen protector.

Or you could just take a nap and catch up on your sleep.

How would you cope with a laptop ban? Would you be completely lost, or would you have options available to you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Pexels (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0, Public Domain)

American, United Launch Automated Screening at O’Hare

January 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Just in time for the recent busy holiday travel season, American and United both launched automated screening lanes in order to help lessen the bottleneck in the TSA checkpoints, a serious problem travelers faced in summer 2016.

The two airlines followed the lead of Delta, which partnered with TSA in May 2016 at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Delta underwrote $1 million dollars of the total TSA investment to bring the automation to the Atlanta airport.
United and American Airlines have installed automated screening at Chicago O'Hare Airport
The automated screening lanes feature the following innovations:

  • Stainless steel countertops that enable several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously;
  • Automated conveyor belts that draw bins into the X-ray machines, and return them to the front of the queue;
  • Bags identified as a potential threat are automatically pushed to a separate area to allow bins behind it to continue through the screening process uninterrupted;
  • Property bins that are 25 percent larger than the bins in standard screening lanes in order to accommodate roller bags; Read more

Shopping for a Business Backpack: Features That Make Travel a Breeze

December 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s the one thing that unites every airport traveler, regardless of destination, purpose of your trip, or which class we fly. We all want to get through security quickly.

We take off our belts, remove our jackets and our shoes, put our change and keys in the little dishes, and pull our laptops from our bags. All of this wastes time, and we’re at risk of forgetting something and leaving it behind. (It’s also one of the compelling reasons for signing up for TSA Pre-Check.)

Travelpro Crew Executive Choice 2 Business Backpack - open

This checkpoint friendly backpack can get you through airport security with a minimum of fuss.

If you had a checkpoint-friendly backpack from our Crew™ Executive Choice™ 2 or Platinum® Magna™ 2 collections, you could be efficient with your time and protect your valuables simultaneously. Our checkpoint-friendly backpacks can be opened up and laid flat, leaving the laptop in one half and your loose items in the other, ready to be checked by security. No chance of leaving things behind or having them stolen. Just re-zip the bag shut, and you’re on your way.

Protecting yourself from identity theft is also a concern. This is where our Crew Executive Choice 2 and Platinum Magna 2 backpacks can help. Both pieces include an RFID protected pocket, which protects its contents by blocking scanners used by identity thieves, making it ideal for storing your wallet or passport.
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5 Ways to Save Time and Energy at the Airport

November 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

As frequent travelers, and the luggage supplier to business travelers all over the world, we’ve shared a lot of travel advice. And one of the things we know is that while we may not enjoy sitting in an airport, trying to get work done, it’s worse to stand in line and not get any work done at all.

A recent article in Smarter Travel shared several ways to save time and get us out of line, as well as save some money in the process. These can save you anywhere from several minutes to a few hours of time, and let you get more work done, or you can simply have more time to relax.

Download your airline’s app. This free service will let you know if your flight has been delayed, and has up-to-date information about arrival and departure times. You can be in the know about where to find your connecting plane. Plus, the GateGuru app can give you information about security wait times, gate changes, and maps of over 200 airports.

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

Check in online. This is the easiest way to bypass a line and get on your way to security faster. Online check in also provides you with a virtual boarding pass which you can scan with the TSA officer instead of having to juggle it and your identification. Better yet, just use your airline app. You don’t even have to mess with your laptop and printer.

Protect Your Personal Information. Be very, very wary about using public wifi. Not every free wifi hotspot you see is legitimate; some enterprising thief can set up a fake hotspot called AIRPORT_WIFI and you’ll never know the difference. So, be sure all your computer security and the firewall are up to date, before you leave the office. Next, never do any personal banking or financial transactions online when you’re in public. If you need to work online, use your mobile phone’s personal hotspot.

Bring food with you. You won’t be gouged for overpriced airport food that probably isn’t very healthy, and you’ll know who handled that piece of fruit before you. Consider some pre-packaged energy bars as well, because they’ll keep in your bag for a few days.

Mark your luggage. Even if you don’t check your bag, there are still a lot of black carry-ons out there. Be sure to have a luggage tag with your name and address securely fastened to the bag. Consider adding something to distinguish the bag from everyone else’s, like a decal, or tying a very small tchotchke to the handle.

How do you minimize downtime in the airport? What do you do to avoid lines and still say efficient? Share some ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Melissa Gutierrez (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

How Airports Can Get Rid of the TSA

October 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Who hasn’t thought while standing in a slow-moving TSA security line, “Couldn’t somebody do this better than the federal government?” There actually is somebody, and there may be a way for your airport to replace the TSA with a private firm.

And after a very hectic travel summer, with reports of up-to-three-hour waits at some security lines, a lot of people started asking that question.

A relatively unknown program, actually operated by the TSA, called the Partnership Screening Program, allows the federal agency to receive bids from private security firms to replace the TSA’s services at the nation’s municipal airports. The private contractors provide screening under federal oversight, and must offer similar wages and benefits for their employees.

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

In fact, the option to fire the TSA dates back to the inception of the agency in 2002 after the September 11 terrorist attacks. At that time, five airports were allowed to contract with private firms as a way for Congress to assess and compare its approach with one offered by the private sector: San Francisco; Kansas City, MO; Rochester, NY; Tupelo, MS; and Jackson, WY.

Kansas City and San Francisco’s international airports were the only two major airports in that original five. But since then, 17 other regional airports around the country have fired the TSA and, with the exception of Kansas City, contracted with Trinity Technology Group, a Department of Homeland Security Safety Act certified company, for their security screening process. Kansas City works with Akal Security.
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Homeland Security Asks Airlines to Eliminate Baggage Fees

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Travel was pretty difficult for some this past summer, as the TSA struggled to clear long lines at the security checkpoints. Travelers faced waits as long as three hours, causing them to miss their flights. The ordeal was eventually sorted, and people were able to get to their destinations as usual.

But this problem could be avoided, said the TSA and a few Washington lawmakers, if the airlines would just get rid of their checked baggage fees.
The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport
Jeh Johnson, the head of Homeland Security, and TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger asked the nation’s airlines to consider waiving or eliminating baggage fees in order to encourage more people to check bags and alleviate the security process clogged by travelers who only have carry-ons.

Not surprisingly, the airlines said no. They’ve had these fees in place since 2007, and it’s how they have been able to remain profitable. How can you do your part to keep the security line moving? Here are some simple, practical reminders to consider:

  • Apply for TSA PreCheck. Even if you only travel once a year, at $85 for five years’ certification, you’ll eliminate most of the hassle that comes with the regular TSA lines: you won’t have to take off your shoes or jacket, unpack your toiletries, or remove your laptop.
  • Make sure your toiletries are the standard 3.4 ounces and that the bag you carry them in is transparent and accessible, like a kitchen reclosable bag.
  • Wear slip-on shoes so you don’t hold up the line untying shoes or unzipping boots. If you can’t do this, loosen the laces or unzip the zipper so that you can ease your feet out quickly. Read more

Border Patrol Wants to Access Visitors’ Social Media

August 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Visitors entering the United States may be asked to provide US Customs and Border Protection with their social media account information. This would be a new question added to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and I-94W forms.

We’re not sure how we feel about that.

On the one hand, these forms already supply information about citizenship, residency, passport, and contact information. With this, it’s easy enough to get social media information. Just go to your favorite social network, and search for the person’s name.

Patch_of_the_United_States_Border_PatrolAccording to the Office of the Federal Register, a publication that lists proposed and final administrative regulations, this data would be used for “screening alien visitors for potential security risks to national security and determining admissibility to the United States.”
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