How to Avoid Stress at Airport Security
The stress of going through airport security has obviously gone up over the last couple of years. Many claim that the TSA's methods are time consuming, have little practical effect, and just make the whole screening process one to be dreaded by most passengers. Here are a few tips to hopefully make your trip one not to be ruined by security checks.
1. Empty Your Pockets in Advance
There is nothing more annoying than when someone in line in front of you at airport security starts taking off their belt, shoes, watch, and tons of jewelry when they actually get to the conveyor belt. This takes time and holds everyone up. It makes much more sense if you do all of this before even getting in line.
I usually take off my watch and my belt and get all the change and keys out of my pockets before even getting in line. I put all these things in a Ziplock bag and put that into an outside pocket of my carry-on luggage which then gets x-rayed. This way I don't have to fumble around with all of these items when I actually get to the security agents. In fact, this should be made mandatory, even though there will always be those people who show up totally unprepared and will inevitable start taking everything off just as they are about to go through the metal detector.
2. Have Your Laptop Out and Ready
There have been countless occasions when passengers start searching through their stuff to find their laptops at the last minute. There is no reason why anyone cannot have their laptops in a handy spot if not actually in their hands when they get to the conveyor belt. This not only speeds up the whole process for the laptop owner, but for everyone else as well. After all, it's not a massive PC that we have to put in the trays, but a laptop.
3. Don't Put Everything Back On at the End of the Conveyor Belt
Once you actually do get through the metal detector etc., it is not a good idea to start putting on your shoes, belt, coat, watch etc. straight from the tray on the conveyor belt. Take your stuff and move to the side where you can do this at your leisure to avoid backing up the line and where you are no longer in the way. Some people insist on putting all their stuff on or back together right at the line and seem oblivious to the fact that trays cannot keep moving along the belt and that some actually get stuck in the x-ray machine while they are doing their thing.
The trick is to get through and away as quickly as possible to avoid getting hostile looks from those with more regard for their passengers.
4. Easy on the Coffee
Airports are full of coffee shops, and many already nervous passengers insist on pouring cups of coffee onto their already strained nerves while they wait. This sometimes ends up causing very negative experiences for everyone involved. People hopped up on coffee can be impatient and aggressive. Going through security with shaky hands and frayed nerves is not doing you any good. Suspicious? Yes. People on caffeine highs tend to look shifty, their bloodshot eyes darting to and fro. My advice is stay away from the overpriced coffee. You'll be doing everyone a favor, not least yourself.
5. Pack Less into Carry-On Baggage
No doubt many people pack their carry-on bags chock full of tons of things that they don't even need. Most people have carry-on baggage bigger than what I usually have for my checked luggage. Oftentimes these are so packed that airport security opens them up, perhaps just to get a kick out of watching how passengers try to re-pack all those things. Less is more. These carry-on bags are supposed to be light enough for one person to lift into the overhead bins, yet it is a common sight to see 2-3 people - stewardesses included - trying to stuff them into place. Reevaluate what you are packing, especially if it is just for a short trip. Most people could get by with less than half the stuff they take. Do you really need 5 books for a 4 day vacation on the beach?
6. Be on Time
Don't leave getting to the airport and check-in to the last minute. There are millions of things that can come up to delay you once you are already at the airport, so don't add even more pressure by cutting things close. Also, respect your fellow passengers as well as airline staff enough to not make everyone wait on you to make yourself to the gate because you just had to buy that last Cinnabon.
I know it's naive to think people will come up with all of the above on their own, and even if they do read it most will ignore these simple steps to a happier airport visit. I hope at least some people have learned something new and useful.