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Airport Security

  Tips Home >> Travelling Tips >> Airport Security


How can I help airport security to do their jobs?
Stay alert and immediately report any suspicious activity to airport security.
Arrive at the airport early to allow for plenty of time to make it through security. Be sure to allow even more time when traveling with infants, young children, elderly or disabled passengers.
Learn to appreciate the fact that the security officers are taking the time to insure that you will be safe on your trip.
Be polite, quiet, follow all instructions and fully cooperate with any requests.
Be ready to answer questions, but don’t get caught up telling a long story. Be complete, but concise.
Don’t make jokes about terrorism, bombs, guns, hijacking or other issues that are the concern of airport security. These jokes are inappropriate and may get you into serious trouble with the law.
Pack your own luggage. Be prepared to answer questions about who packed your bags, if you left your bags unattended at any time, accepted items from others to carry on the plane or if you are carrying any hazardous materials.
Have all appropriate identification and entry documentation ready for inspection. Airlines do refuse to board passengers that fail to produce proper identification.
If the form’s instructions allow you to do so, complete any security forms and/or customs declaration forms in advance.
If you are required to travel with a passport, make sure it is valid and completely filled out with updated information.
Have a contact name and phone number ready if you are taking an international flight.
Be aware of the items that you pack and wear. Do research on what’s allowed on board the aircraft and what’s not. Some items you might consider harmless may only be carried in limited amounts or are prohibited altogether.
Don’t travel with wrapped packages since security will have to open them if X-rays are unable to identify the contents. Wrap gift packages after you arrive at your destination.
Don’t over pack your luggage. Cramming items in your bags will make inspection more difficult and, since they will need to pull everything out, it will take extra time for you to repack after the security check.
Know that all checked bags and carry-on material are subject to being hand-searched.
Save security and yourself some embarrassment. If you would be embarrassed if a certain item was pulled out of your bags in a public area, see if it’s possible for you to leave that item at home.
Keep your luggage and other possessions gathered together.
Never leave your luggage unattended.
Park only in legitimate parking spaces and never leave your vehicle unattended in loading and unloading zones. Parking rules are strictly enforced and your car will be ticketed and may be towed. These types of tickets can carry very large fines.
Never accept gifts or packages from unknown parties.
Don’t go near abandoned bags, and immediately report them to security.
If your luggage has locks, keep the keys available in case your luggage needs to be inspected.
Mark your luggage so it can easily be identified as yours. Use something that makes your bags unique, but avoid items that could be caught on a conveyor belt. Colorful tape works nicely.
Don’t delay picking up your luggage when you arrive or you may find it has already disappeared when you get there.
So I told a bad joke, what could happen?
Security checkpoints are strict, which is what keeps us safe. Safety is no joking matter at the airport and it is no place for bad jokes.
Any comments about bombs, terrorism, guns etc. heard by any Airline or airport personnel will be taken seriously.
Arrests have been made of those who make inappropriate jokes. Penalties can include large fines and jail time.
If you think it will be funny to tell the security guards to carefully search your buddy’s luggage because he might have a gun, plan on that search happening, along with questions and delays for both of you.
Thought you might spice up the long lines by telling the check-in clerk that your recently dumped psychotic, demolition expert ex-girlfriend was trying to kiss up by helping you pack? Think again, you don’t want that much spice in your life. Although, if you do have that ex-girlfriend, here’s a valuable tip, don’t let her anywhere near your luggage.
Plan on announcing that you were running late because you were having a few drinks with the pilot and he got too drunk to read his watch? Plan on running a whole lot later. Your best case scenario is that you’ll be allowed to fly with the 100 hot, annoyed people your little joke delayed for two hours. You’d better hope security is good at the other airport when you land.
What actions did the Federal Aviation Administration take to protect air travelers after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001?
All flights that were in U.S. airspace were ordered to land at the nearest appropriate airport. International flights that had not yet entered U.S. airspace returned to their origin or were diverted to other countries.
All airports in the United States were closed.
All U.S. airport facilities and airplanes were thoroughly searched, secured and inspected.
Before an airport could reopen, it first had to undergo preparation for new stricter security procedures and pass an inspection by the Federal Aviation Administration to verify that those procedures were in place. Airlines also had to pass safety inspections before any flights were allowed to resume.
Once airports were reopened and flights approved, the airlines were then allowed the discretion to decide when they would actually resume flights.
What new airport security measures were put into place after the hijackings and terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?
Checking bags at curbside (skycap) and off-airport sites was suspended indefinitely at all U.S. airports. Some of the off-airport sites may still be able to be used to obtain boarding passes and seat assignments, but you should call your airline to see what services they continue to offer at their off airport locations.
Airports will watch vehicles more closely and may restrict parking to keep vehicles a greater distance from terminals. The regulations concerning vehicles parked near airport terminals will be much more strictly enforced.
There will be more thorough searches of passenger’s belongings including more physical checks of the passengers themselves.
Only ticketed passengers will now be allowed to proceed past airport security checkpoints and into the gate areas. Passengers traveling on an e-ticket will need some form of paperwork from the airline in addition to an e-ticket number to be allowed through the security checkpoint.
Knives or any other cutting instruments of any type and made from any material are now added to the list of items you are prohibited from bringing onboard an aircraft. Knives may now only be transported in checked baggage. Airlines will no longer provide steak knives for on-board food service. Many airport food service vendors will no longer provide knives to their customers and merchandise vendors will no longer sell any knifes or knifelike items.
Additional uniformed and undercover law enforcement officers and canine teams have increased patrols at U.S. airports.
A large number of federal marshals and deputies, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agents have been dispatched to the busiest airports across the country to assist with the introduction of tighter security measures. You may even find military personnel patrolling the airports.
The Federal Aviation Administration is placing armed, undercover Federal Air Marshals on both domestic and international flights.
Just as before the attacks, all passengers must present a valid government issued photo I.D., such as a driver’s license, as part of their documentation at check-in and now they may also be required to present this I.D. at security checkpoints.
Who are Federal Air Marshals?
Federal Air Marshals are the Federal Aviation Administration’s civil aviation security specialists who are specially trained for deployment on anti-hijacking missions. These Federal Air Marshals have only recently been deployed on international flights, but will now be covering domestic flights. Federal Air Marshals are armed and trained in the use of firearms on board aircraft. The Marshals carry weapons and fly undercover and anonymously. The FAA will not reveal identities of the Marshals or the number of Marshals in their service for security reasons.
Have any additional security measures been taken by individual Airlines since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?
Every Airline is different so you should check with your airline if you are concerned about any of the issues listed below.
Some Airlines may temporarily increase limits on carry-on baggage or even prohibit them all together. This would require you to check more or all of your bags. You should contact the airline for updated information if there is an item you feel you must bring on board.
Some Airlines have temporarily suspended or restricted their programs that allow unaccompanied minors travel.
Some Airlines have temporarily suspended or restricted their programs that allow for the transportation of pets. If you must travel with a service animal you should check with the Airline for any updates to the procedures allowing service animals on flights.
Some Airlines have temporarily suspended or restricted their mail and cargo programs.
What additional security measures are under consideration for the future?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has formed two new commitees that will focus on air travel security. One commitee will focus on airport security while the other will focus on Airline security issues. At this point, they are open to consider any improvements in air travel safety. Here are some of the issues that have already been mentioned for review.
Airport security screeners will be required to meet new higher standards. The Federal Aviation Administration already has a rule pending that is expected to go into force by October 2001 that will give them direct oversight of screening contractors who supply the security personnel. This rule also imposes new more rigorous standards for the training and testing of screeners. In addition, the rule will require the use of new software that will monitor how well each screener is doing at detecting dangerous objects. Contractors whose screeners fail to meet Federal Aviation Administration detection standards can lose their certification to perform security at the airports.
The U.S. Government may also consider completely taking over the security screener workforce. Many security and terrorism experts have advocated taking this step for quite some time.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (F.A.A.’s parent) is working with the U.S. Department of Defense to see if highly trained members of the military could be deployed to augment the Federal Air Marshal force at least until they have time to increase the number of Federal Air Marshals.
The F.A.A. is considering new regulations that will require the cockpit doors on all commericial aircraft to be bullet and possibly even grenade proof.
Matching luggage to passengers is common in many other countries in the world, but not yet done by most Airlines that operate in the United States. If you check luggage and fail to physically get on the plane, your luggage is found and removed from the flight. It is thought that it is a deterrent for someone planning to put something dangerous in their checked luggage if they know they must fly on the same plane that carries that dangerous material.
There are other measures under consideration that may never be announced to the public. Some of the most effective elements of a security system are the ones that no one knows about.
If you have a concern or a suggestion to improve airport security, let the F.A.A. and your elected representatives know what you think.
Will airport security allow me to meet an arriving passenger at the gate?
Only passengers with a ticket for travel on that particular day will be allowed beyond the security checkpoint and into the gate areas. Airlines are making provisions for persons with disabilities, those who need to be accompanied by healthcare assistants or parents who need to meet unaccompanied minors. If your situation falls into one of the previous categories, you should contact the Airline directly for details on special assistance. All others should make plans to meet arriving passengers outside of the security checkpoints.
How can I make it through the security checkpoint if I only have an electronic ticket (e-ticket)?
Only ticketed passengers with a government issued photo I.D. will be allowed beyond the security checkpoint. Within certain guidelines, the Federal Aviation Administration allows airlines to determine what ticket documentation (paper ticket, boarding pass, reservation confirmation, airline or travel agency generated itinerary or receipt for an electronic ticket) their screeners will allow which means you might find some variance in procedures. You should check directly with the airline in advance if you have an electronic ticket because you will need some form of paperwork to make it through the security checkpoint and into the gate areas. The airline might be able to mail, fax or email any additional paperwork you need or you should be able to pick up the additional paperwork at their check-in counter when you check your luggage. No matter what paperwork is required, it must indicate a flight departure for the current date to allow you to pass through the security checkpoint.


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