In the Suitcase: Dealing with TSA

While scanning the Internet I came across TSA’s tips to “SimpliFLY” your travel. Because, apparently, what used to be just a routine procedure involving sending your carry-on luggage (more than two!) and walking through the X-ray has become so complicated that TSA has to actually create an entire site with a clever headline to explain how to do what used to be so easy. You wonder who is really harassing the passengers now – terrorists or TSA.

TSA makes it SO complicated that its site actually says to avoid wearing the following:

“Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs.

“Metal hair barrettes.

“Belt buckles.

“Underwire bras.”

It does, however, allow GEL-FILLED bras to go through.

Combined with the liquids rule and the shoe rule and the charges on checked luggage requires the traveler to wise up and get clever. Now it’s not that I’m trying to advocate breaking rules or encouraging ways for terrorists to bypass security, although I’m sure if they observed the cluelessness that is TSA, they would have already picked up on the same lessons I’ve learned. So, if you’re not any good at consolidating your packing, there are a few more tricks to ease your life through the security line.

1. The “two carry-on rule” lasts through security, and then after that, nobody, and I mean nobody, notices if you have more than two. That’s because you can purchase a lunch, or shop at the gift shop or duty free, and now you have three bags. If you can make it through security with what appears to be two bags, you’ll be good to go. Here’s how: you are allowed one piece of carry-on (check the dimensions) and one “personal item”. You can’t help if you have a purse or briefcase the size of another carry-on suitcase. Worst case scenario, they make you check it at the gate, but then you won’t have to pay or risk having it put on the wrong plane.

2. Can’t get through with just two pieces? Wear your biggest shoes, tie a sweater around your waist, and wear your jacket. Perhaps carry another item in your arms. I also find carrying a book or two in your hands works too. Remember, the key is not to put anything in a bag or they’ll tell you, “you can’t have three carry-ons.” (Sometimes it helps to have a plastic or cotton tote bag stuffed in your luggage to whip out afterwards)

3. Too many liquids? First, shove them into that little Ziploc bag. And guess what: “medicines” are allowed to exceed 3 ounces – like saline solution. But here’s a tip: YOU don’t get x-rayed. Small items without metal like eyedrops, chapstick, or lip gloss can be stuffed into your pants pocket, and they won’t get detected or taken away.

4. Don’t argue. If you’re wearing any top with a zipper or button, they will ask you to remove it (if you have something underneath). If it’s a bulky sweatshirt with no zipper, they won’t bother you. Yes, even a slim-fitting cardigan in a sweater set must be removed. And since you’ll be wearing your biggest shoes (sneakers, hiking shoes), unlace them while you’re waiting on line.

5. Make TSA guards feel like Superman. Nod and smile, agree, and maybe thank them on your way out. Yes, they are annoying, but they are also doing their job. Some of them are on power trips, but others are probably just as frazzled to have to yell at people all day to take off their shoes, coats, and remove their laptops and liquids. Don’t make it any more difficult for either you or them and you’ll just get through without much drama.

6. Check for everything. After you go through the whole fiasco, make sure you leave with all your items. It would be a shame to leave your cell phone or watch behind.

7. It’s different overseas. The other countries haven’t quite figured out TSA’s rules, so they’ll require the plastic bag for liquids but allow you to have as many plastic bags as you want, or leave the laptop in the bag, and the shoes on. They’ll also take lighters and matches, possibly, so it all depends.

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2 Comments

Filed under In The Suitcase

2 responses to “In the Suitcase: Dealing with TSA

  1. Outstanding post. You have made a recent regular reader. Please maintain the good writings and I look forward to more of your amusing writings.

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