Picture yourself standing in front of hundreds of people in your underwear. Your bare feet on the tile feel cold, but not as cold as the stares coming from every direction. Time seems to freeze, and then, suddenly, the world around you seems to fly! You cannot move fast enough. Regardless of the speed at which you follow the instructions given, you are never good enough. And the crowd just keeps on staring... Annoyed, bothered, unimpressed. You are trapped in a crowd, wearing nearly nothing, and holding up progress.
Unless you have a solid six pack or a bikini bod, this probably sounds like a nightmare you have had. On multiple occasions. In fact, it may be your worst nightmare.
My friends, this is more than a bad dream, this is a reality that thousands of people face every single day. This is airport security.
Airport security has increased tremendously since 2001. While the added assurance makes flying feel much safer for the hesitant traveler, for the rest of us it can seem more like humiliation than protection. The glazed over stares that penetrate right through you and the mumbles about how slow you are moving can seem worse than death. Is this really the better alternative?!
My friends, while we may not be able to readily change airport security, we can discover ways of making it through with greater ease.
Fortunately, it is possible to make the experience of trekking through security much more enjoyable (or at least, less unenjoyable), faster, and less bothersome. Simply by spending some time considering what you will wear and what you will pack can make a world of difference.
Whether a professional flyer or just starting out, here are some great suggestions to assist you in making it through airport security rapidly, safely, and with less humiliation.
What Not to Wear in the Airport
Bad Things to Wear and Bring When Flying
We can learn a lot from the above picture. Just as Michael Phelps shaves his legs to streamline himself in the Olympics, removing unneeded items from your person will help you make it through airport security at Olympic speeds.
THINGS TO AVOID BRINGING
A Big Coat: Unless it is absolutely cold, avoid bringing a coat, jacket, or blazer. It will have to be removed. Save yourself time and have it off already. If you are sure you need to bring one, try to have room for it in your carry-on so that you do not have to pile it into another security box.
A Watch: Today is the age of technology. Everyone should have a cellphone. That phone tells the time. Leave your watch at home - or at least keep it in your bag during security. Your flight will leave at the same time whether or not you are wearing your watch - just keep moving as fast as you can.
Any Kind of Jewelry: "But I'm so good looking with my bling on! People cannot get enough of me with my beautiful earrings". Trust me, no one is going to be appreciating your hidden piercings when the buzzer goes off and everyone has to wait for you to discretely remove your jewelry. Just keep it all off from the start.
A Hat: It is likely that you will have to remove your cap as well. Either plan accordingly so that you can move fast, or keep it in your bag until you make it through the scanner.
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Boots and Fancy Shoes: Your shoes WILL have to come off! Women, now is not the time to wear your intricately tied shoes that lace half-way up your leg. Yes, they are attractive. No, the airport is not the place to impress guys at the expense of the line. And both genders, leave the boots at home. Even if your a cowboy, I'm sure that you will be able to make it safely through the entire flight without needing to wrangle cattle.
Studded and Complex Belts: You will also have to remove any belts that you are wearing. If at all possible, wear clothing that does not require a belt. If, however, a belt is an important addition to the wardrobe, simply plan ahead and have it off by the time you are front-and-center in the security line.
Weapons of Any Kind: Unless you are the Queen of England taking a sword to America to knight someone, leave your weapons at home. In fact, the Queen may even have a struggle successfully carrying her sword on board. If you keep all weapons, explosives, and other such items at home, you will not only keep the passengers of the plane safer, but you will prevent yourself from going to jail. Even things such as school scissors can get you into trouble.
Filled Up Water Bottles: Although you probably will not be able to drowned someone with a bottle of water, the potential of liquid explosives being involved requires all water bottles to be empty. Make sure that your bottles are empty and you will save yourself much more embarrassment and hassle.
What to Wear When Flying
Ultimately, the best way to go through airport security is by being a clothing minimalist. If a guy is comfortable wearing board shorts and a t-shirt with flip-flops, he will be loved by all who follow behind him in the line. Similarly, the woman who can sport some classy tights with a simple top and slip-on shoes will be the envy of every man standing in line next to his ready-for-the-Oscars dressed woman.
Of course, many of us prefer to look semi-decent - even when we travel. And actually, it is a much better idea to be dressed well. I have discovered that I receive much better service when I dress to impress. Additionally, if anyone is going to be bumped up to first-class, it will be the person who looks like they belong, not the dude with the dreads and pierced nose.
Therefore, for the semi-classy dresser, here is what to consider wearing when flying:
Easy to Remove Belt: If you can quickly slide off and pull back on your belt, it is perfect for the airport. Being able to remove and replace ones clothing with ease is fantastic when flying.
Jacket in Bag: The efficient traveler will have her coat tucked away nicely in her bag. Yes, it will get cold on the plane and she will be ready - but she will not need to carry it around beforehand.
Slip on Shoes: It is not necessary to wear flip-flops, but loafers or other shoes that do not need to be laced will make security a breeze.
No Change in Pockets: Any and all metal will draw attention to oneself. If it is an Olympic Gold Medal, you may want to attract attention. If it is a quarter or paper clip, probably not so much. Make sure that your pockets are clear of metal.
Security-Friendly Accessories: Items such as ties can look great and do not need to be removed during a security screening. This is a great addition to look a step classier without holding up the line - a true sign of a gentleman (classy, but not making others wait for him).
How to Pack: Security-Safe
Packing Bags for Security
Airports scan everything that enters. Both the people and the luggage. Often times you may be asked to remove particular items from a bag. Being able to quickly and easily remove these items will keep the crowd behind you from kicking you off of the airplane without a parachute.
Just to be safe, keep all electronics and liquids near the front/top of your bag. These are often items that security will demand to be presented separately from the suitcase. Frequent Fliers may throw a huge fit in the middle of the airport if they unexpectedly find themselves trapped behind one of these "electronics and liquids at the bottom of the bag" packers. In fact, you will likely be sneered at and mocked later on while this passenger is sharing stories with other elite in the frequent fliers lounge.
If traveling with kids, keep an eye on the packing process very carefully. A little pocket knife or toy car in the pocket can slow down the entire process. However, kids that have been trained accordingly should not be much of a hassle when flying.
All-in-all, know what is in your carry-on and where it is. If you do this, not only are your chances of getting stopped minimized, but even if you are stopped, you will quickly be able to assess and recover from this travesty.
Surviving the Unfriendly Skies
In today's fast-paced world flying has become more of a necessary annoyance than the novel magic that it was 75 years ago. This is truly sad because the act of zooming through the air in a giant piece of medal, pushed by huge engines burning rocket fuel, is pretty impressive.
Even if the security process is a pain in the neck, the crowds get upset at you, and you realize that you left something important at home, try to enjoy the experience. Bring a book or magazine, do some window shopping (don't buy more than you can carry), and watch several airplanes take off.
Rediscover the magic in flight and the inconveniences won't seem as bad.
Many people have had terrible and hilarious experiences while flying. Share your airport security stories below! Maybe you will find others who have had similar adventures.