Blog: Simplify Your Life
Making Airport Security Easier
We just flew for the first time in a while this past week -- and may I simply say how glad I am that Matt and I don't have to rely entirely upon the airlines for long-distance transportation any more? What a pain in the neck! The world has changed since 9/11, and it's a rare traveler that doesn't experience some level of delay or frustration. But there are some proactive steps you can take to make your trip through the screening line a bit faster.
To Go In The Bins
As most people know, the TSA has reduced the size of carry-on toiletries -- but I still see folks getting stopped for exceeding the limit, so I thought I might recap the 3-1-1 rule. You are allowed a 3-ounce bottle of each liquid or gel -- all 3-ounce bottles must fit into a single 1 quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag -- and only 1 bag per passenger. This plastic bag must be placed in a screening bin -- and you may not have liquids in any other carry-ons (so be sure to empty the cosmetics and lotions from your purse). I can get by on my zippy bag of toiletries for up to a week-long trip -- if you need more, you'll have to store it in your checked luggage. You can bring more than 3 ounces of certain other liquids like medications and baby formula -- don't forget to declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint (and be prepared to contaminate an entire supply of breast milk proving it isn't explosive to an overzealous security guard!)
You've probably been informed that laptop computers must go through screening in a separate bin, but don't be surprised if you're asked to put larger portable game systems, MP3, or CD players in that sexy gray plastic tub, too (pretty much anything bigger than your iPod). If you keep these near the top of your carry-on bag, they will be easy to access quickly. And guys, rather than waiting until you get to the conveyor belt to empty your pockets, think about carrying a fanny pack (I hate that name) or a "man-purse" to the airport -- a small bag that can hold your wallet, keys, change, cell phone, etc. There's a reason women have been toting around handbags for centuries -- it's much more convenient to have these small items consolidated in one place, rather than scattering them amongst your pockets. And I promise that we won't think any less of you!
The TSA suggests that you pack a your carry-on bag in layers -- putting heavier items on the bottom, then clothes, then electronic items on top. This will help security better see what's in your bag as they run it down the conveyor belt, and will also save you time pulling out potentially threatening devices (like your Gameboy and laptop) for the screener.
You may not consider organization to be a security issue, but it is when you fly. This is not the time to get in a rush and stuff a bunch of junk into your bag, will-nilly. A mess is harder for the screeners to interpret on the x-ray machine -- and will almost certainly guarantee you a delay as the lovely TSA agent rifles through your bag to figure out that those tangled wires aren't actually part of a bomb. A neatly packed carry-on will get you through the line faster -- so take a second to wrap your cords, store loose items in a small interior bag, and put anything that could be misinterpreted as "suspicious" near the top of your carry-on.
You Are What You Wear
It's always been said that a seasoned traveler knows how to dress for the occasion (at least, that's what Grace Kelly told Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window") -- and this is doubly true when you are flying. You can greatly speed up your trip through security if you dress for the screening machines. And believe me, I'm not suggesting for a second that this hideous green feather outfit of Madonna's is an appropriate choice -- woman, what were you thinking?? In the 80's, everyone wanted to dress like the Material Girl, but it's no wonder that she hasn't been copied in decades. Wait a minute, that's not where I wanted to go with this blog -- okay, away from celebrity fashion mistakes and back to flight tips!
In the old days, folks dressed up for air travel (I love that even in "The Endless Summer," those fabulous 60's beach bums wore suits on the flight to Africa to go surfing!) But in the modern world, dressing down will save you a lot of time and frustration. I personally vote for sweats (as I usually spend most of the flight sleeping), but you can still look "professional" while avoiding the most common security wardrobe pitfalls (especially if you shop at Chico's, where everything is built for comfort and nothing requires a belt!) Here are a few tips for quick passage through security:
- wear clothes that minimize zippers, buttons, snaps, or metal parts that might set off the alarms
- watches and big jewelry can also set off the metal detectors, so keep any oversized earrings, bracelets, bangles, and other accessories in your bag until you get through security -- you can pretty yourself up in the bathroom near your gate, so you look sexy for the flight
- stick to slip-on shoes (I love my Birks for this) rather than those that tie or zip -- you'll spend less time getting your shoes off and on as you pile your stuff on the conveyor belt
- if you can manage it without your pants falling down, avoid wearing a belt -- it's just one more thing to have to remove and put back on
- if you wear a hat, the security guard is 99% certain to ask you to take it off -- so if you're having a bad hair day, you may want to stick to a barrette or bandanna
- you will also be asked to remove any jackets or sweaters, so go ahead and stick your outerwear in your carry-on bag -- you can pull it back out after you're done with security and ready to get on the plane
Do's And Don'ts
You would think that it would be pretty obvious what kinds of items are considered too "dangerous" or "hazardous" to be included in your carry-on bags. However, when the Department Of Homeland Security says that you can't take an unloaded gun with you, but you can carry a pipe wrench (which seems a more effective way to club someone than pistol-whipping them) -- I have to question the logic behind our current anti-terrorism policies. The rules are fairly arbitrary, so I thought I would spend a minute educating you on the finer points of luggage restriction in the modern age.
- pretty much anything sharp is right out (box cutters, knives, razors, etc.) -- but you can bring metal scissors with pointed tips and blades shorter than four inches -- I guess the TSA presumes you'll live if you get four inches of metal jabbed into your neck
- if you're planning to play sports on your trip, you need to pack your equipment -- bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks, pool cues, and ski poles are all restricted
- hammers, drills, and saws are not allowed -- but a screwdriver, wrench, or pair of pliers is fine (????)
- the TSA specifically restricts cattle prods and crowbars (I know that I've had to unpack my bags more than once for these items) -- but it's okay to bring lighters and matches onboard the plane (smoking is prohibited in-flight and in the airport, but they don't want people to have to wait a second to light up as soon as they land)
- of course no explosives -- but that might include glycerine-based soaps and toiletries, if it sets off the bomb detectors
and no snow globes -- what the hell were you thinking? those might kill somebody!
- no gel shoe inserts, but you can bring up to 4 small compressed gas cartridges if they accompany a life vest
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posted on: 7/13/2010 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips
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Simplify Your Life
by Ramona Creel
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I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!
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