I am a full-time traveling registered nurse, fitness enthusiast, and nutrition expert. Every morning I wake up intending to bring awareness of the importance of health and spiritual wellness, especially to the traveling community. At Messy Bun Traveler, we promote travel that allows the traveler to either kick-start, maintain, or enhance a healthy lifestyle. So whether you're someone who travels for business, travels for pleasure, or new to travel and looking for health advice while on the road, this blog is for you!
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Navigating through airport security is one of the most daunting and demanding parts of visiting an airport, especially if you’re traveling as a family, with children, or with people that may be unfamiliar with the process.
Even super-savvy travelers make mistakes when going through airport security. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve left a half-drunk water bottle buried or a swiss army knife at the bottom of my carry-on. Or better yet, bought a nice bottle of shampoo and conditioner while in the Philippines, only to have it thrown away by airport security because it exceeded the size limit.
Zip right past the check-in counter and head straight to security, possibly bypassing a lot of passengers that are still waiting in the long line at the check-in counter.
The early check-in process allows you to print your boarding passes online or even download them onto a mobile app, so you aren’t required to stand in the long lines. If you’re checking bags, you can enter online how many you have and prepay for them using a credit card.
That way, when you arrive, all you have to do is hand over your bags, and off you go!
Even if you’re a frequent flyer, it’s essential to brush up on the rules of that specific country’s airport. Some airports have restrictions on lithium-ion batteries, for example. And for most places, I’ve traveled with a shaving razor in my carry-on with no problems, but in Turkey, they threw it away.
Avoid time-consuming and unnecessary waste and money by reviewing the rules before heading to the airport.
Airport security lines can be extremely unpredictable, which is why it’s advisable to get yourself to the airport at least two hours before a domestic flight, or at least three hours before an international one.* This time frame will ensure that you’ll get through the check-in counter and security line with plenty of time to get to your gate.
* During the coronavirus pandemic, many airports are now recommending four hours before departure time. Due to additional documents and requirements, each country may have; it is now taking extra time to get through check-in.
Also, some things to note: Monday, Tuesday, and Friday are the busiest days at the airport with Saturday being the least busy. If you know you’re flying on a busy day, get yourself to the airport early to avoid any delays when waiting in the long security line.
It has been common practice for a while now, but even I sometimes forget before entering the security line. It’s always a good idea to bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport, but make sure it’s, in fact, EMPTY. There’s been many times where I thought the bottle was empty, only to find myself stopped by security because there were still a couple of ounces left at the bottom.
Also, be mindful of foods and other products that are classified as liquids such as shampoos, soaps, creams, or foods like jams and jellies. Airport security will throw all this away if they exceed the allotted 3.4 ounces. Make sure that all your liquids are stored in a clear, quart-sized bag as well.
It seems to me that airports are getting more and more neurotic about electronic devices and how they should be organized on the security belt.
While it’s still common in the United States to only have to take out your laptop and tablets, some are now requiring you to take out your camera, hard drives, external devices, cell phones, and so on. All while putting them each in separate bins.
Do yourself and everyone behind you a favor and keep your stuff organized with easy access, so you don’t have to literally unpack your whole suitcase just to get one item.
Leave the strappy stilettos and heavy boots at home or in your carry-on bag. If you’re sitting there struggling to get your shoes off while in the security line, you’re going to piss off a bunch of people standing behind you!
Not to mention you’ll get super frustrated at yourself and probably the staff as they ask you to take your shoes off and do it QUICK! Instead, wear a comfy pair of tennis shoes or slip-ons that are easy to get on and off your feet.
This is for those planning on traveling during the holidays and bringing gifts along with you. If it’s wrapped and something TSA wants to inspect, they WILL unwrap it to do so. All that hard work, GONE (insert sad face here). It’s best to ship the gifts off beforehand or wrap them up after you get off the plane.
Don’t be afraid to ask TSA security a question if you’re unsure how they want you to organize your stuff on the belt. Do you want me to take out my food? Do I need to take off my sweater? How about the hair clip in my hair? All valid questions and the answers can differ based on who’s security line you end up in.
Sometimes you forget something at the bottom of your bag that may trigger the scanner. Sometimes you’re just the luck of the draw. There’s no need to panic if you see a TSA security officer taking your luggage over to the counter for inspection.
Just head on over, and wait for them to do their due diligence. You’ll be out of there in no time!
This last snippet of advice may cost you a little out-of-pocket expense, but in the long run, it will save you SOOOO much time. Sometimes, and especially on busy travel days, going through security lines can be time-sucking.
With Global Entry though, you can skip the lines and get through much faster on your return flight to the U.S. requirements: sign up for a Global Entry account, pay a $100 fee, schedule an interview at an enrollment center, and wait for your background check to clear. Once you’re approved, you can save so much time when reentering the United States!
If you tend to take more domestic flights than international ones, you may want to consider signing up for TSA Precheck instead. TSA Precheck offers many of the same benefits as Global Entry and will ensure saving you valuable time.
Navigating through the airport can be a daunting task, but with a little preparation and knowledge of the process, you can make it through smoothly. The best way to start is by knowing what to expect when you arrive at the airport. Once you know where to go and what to do, follow these simple tips for getting through security and onto your flight.
* We will never share your details with any third party
Does global entry have to be done for each trip or is it a one time process and fee? If it’s a one time process, does it have an expiration date?
It’s a one time process and good for 5 years!
[…] How to Navigate Through Airport Security Like a Pro […]
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