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Airport Security Checkpoint: Tips for Expediting Passage

1. Arrive at the airport two hours ahead for domestic departures, and three hours ahead for international departures. At some airports, every minute of that two hours will be used going through security and ticket checks. Better to have a little extra time than miss your flight because you're standing in line waiting to get through the x-ray machine.

2. Be absolutely sure you have a current photo ID with you.

3. Check with your airline regarding what objects you may carry on with you. The list of objects that are being confiscated changes, but typically include such things as pocketknives, scissors, and combustible fluids.

4. Unless you have special needs, no unticketed persons will be allowed to pass through security. You'll have to say your good-byes before going through the security checkpoint.

5. Pack light. The more you carry with you, the more time may be needed to scrutinize your belongings. Electronic gear is being checked closely.

6. Any metal detected at the checkpoint must be identified. If you set off the alarm, you will be required to undergo additional screening, including a hand-wanding and a pat-down inspection that includes the torso. You can remove metal items at the security checkpoint and place them in the bins or trays provided. The bins will be sent through the X-ray machine. Save time by not wearing metal items or by placing such items in your carry-on baggage before you get in line.

7. You are not required to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector. However, TSA screeners may encourage you to remove shoes before entering the metal detector, as many types of footwear will require additional screening, even if the metal detector DOES NOT alarm. Screeners will encourage you to remove boots, platform shoes, athletic shoes, and dress shoes. Screeners are less likely to suggest removing flip-flops and thin-soled sandals without metal.

8. Avoid wearing clothing, jewelry, or other accessories that contain metal when traveling, such as pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyard or bolo tie. Other items to avoid are: clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs, metal hair barrettes or other hair decorations, belt buckles, under-wire brassieres.

9. Hidden items such as body piercings may result in a pat-down inspection. You may ask to remove your body piercing in private as an alternative to the pat-down search.

10. Avoid placing metal items in your pockets such as keys, loose change, lighters, mobile phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs). Place these things in your carry-on baggage until you clear security.

11. Pack coats and jackets in your baggage when possible. If you choose to wear an outer coat or jacket to the checkpoint, you will need to put it in the bin that is provided for you.

12. Before flying with golf gear, clean off clubs to prevent possibly triggering baggage screening equipment (from fertilizer residue). Remember to pack clubs in a travel bag and consider leaving it unlocked.

13. Before flying with camping gear, be sure to check the camp's suggested supply list against the Transportaton Security Administration prohibited items list to avoid headaches at security checkpoints. Items like pocket knives and pointed-tip scissors are not permitted in carry-on luggage. Also, parents and camp counselors can call ahead to airlines for permission to escort children to and from gates. Children under 18 are not required to travel with identification.

14. Fireworks are not allowed on airplanes, either in checked or carry-on baggage for safety and security reasons. You will have to buy such supplies for New Years, Fourth of July, and other celebrations after you arrive at your destination.

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