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Breeze Through Airport Security

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During the shake up a few years ago of the airport security system, things got a little crazy and airport security went a little overboard confiscating toenail clippers and hair mousse. Thankfully those days of an overzealous security system are behind us and a cautious, careful and reasonable security system has take its place. With a little commonsense and preparation, you can reduce the hassle and the time it takes you to get through airport security and get your flight off to a great start.

Like most things in life, a little preparation goes a long way. Preparation is especially helpful for a smooth move through airport security. Before you even pack your swim suit, do a little planning to make sure that items are packed appropriately for that little visit with security. A little commonsense applies. If you are traveling with anything that is a weapon or could be used as a weapon, pack it in your checked luggage.

Sharp-pointed metal scissors, pack 'em in a checked bag. Curved-tipped scissors are okay for carry-on. Despite some stories you may have heard from friends, the following items are allowed in your carry-on luggage: knitting needles, toenail clippers, corkscrews, nail files, blunt-tipped scissors and safety razors. The most common personal item that is not allowed in checked or carry-on bags is a lighter. If you are a smoker, pack a few books of safety matches in your carry-on bag instead.

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If you are traveling with a laptop, it must be inspected outside of your carry-on bag. So, you may want to label your laptop separately by taping a business card or other identifier to the bottom.

Pack all of your valuables, laptop, camera and camcorder equipment in your carry-on bags. Camera film and equipment may be damaged by the checked-luggage screening and you want to keep your valuables in your personal care at all times.

Remember that checked luggage must be unlocked or locked with a TSA-recognized lock (a lock designed with a special code that security may use to inspect the contents of your bags). If you are packing gifts, don't wrap them until you get to your destination as security may have to inspect them.

Now that you're packed, it's time to dress for the airport. Avoid wearing a lot of jewelry or metal items. Try to wear a pair of tennis shoes or other comfortable shoes that doesn't have a metal support in the sole construction (many thick-soled dress shoes and high-heeled women's shoes use these). If you pack your keys, cell phone or PDA in your pocket, prepare an empty pocket in your carry-on where you can easily place these items before you get to the security checkpoint.

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When you're at the airport and about to go through security, the most important thing you can do is to be prepared for the next step in the process. Before you enter the security line, verify that there is not a shorter line at another gateway that you can use. As you enter the line, have your boarding pass and driver's license or passport ready for inspection. Keep these items easily accessible as many airports require you to show them more than once.

As you approach the security checkpoint, remove all metal items, keys, PDAs and cell phones from your person and place them in your specially prepared carry-on pocket. You may also want to remove your jacket and carry it over your arm until you get to the check point.

At the security checkpoint, take your laptop out of your carry-on. Place your laptop and jacket in the provided containers. Place your carry-on bag on the conveyor. As your items enter the scanner, it's time for you to breeze on through the checkpoint.

Be sure to follow the instructions of the security screeners. Remember they are there to ensure your security. If you are pulled aside for a random screening, be courteous to the security personnel. They are there to do a job and being pleasant makes things a little nicer for both them and you.

A little commonsense and preparation can ease your way through airport security and get your flight off to a great start.
About the Author

Jed Clark is a travel writer, photographer and long-time San Francisco resident. For more travel tips and information about San Francisco destinations, attractions and neighborhoods, visit http://www.zurdogo.com

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