Travel smart this holiday season
by 2nd Lt. Larry van der Oord
It's a familiar scene every holiday season at any airport in the country. The flustered business traveler sprints through the terminal carrying two bags with papers flying out of his briefcase as he hurdles the luggage carts in a desperate attempt to catch a flight that took off five minutes ago.
Instead of trying to conquer the ever-so-difficult "airport obstacle course" this year, play it smart during the holiday season and be prepared when you're traveling.
It's no secret that the airport is a very busy place- especially during the holidays. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure a smooth trip.
With time always an issue, make sure you leave yourself plenty of it. Plan on getting to the airport at least an hour and a half early for your flight.
If possible, take advantage of the service that some airlines offer by printing your boarding pass from your airline's Web site prior to departing for the airport. This may save you a long wait at the ticket counter.
When you arrive, make sure you have proper identification readily available. At most airports, a boarding pass and photo ID are required to pass through the security checkpoint. Ensure you have easy access to both until you exit the security checkpoint.
The Transportation Security Administration offers a few tips to help reduce your wait time at the security checkpoint.
First, avoid wearing shoes, clothing, jewelry or accessories that contain metal. These items may set of the alarm on the metal detector further delaying your security screening.
Another holiday reminder from TSA is not to bring wrapped gifts to the security checkpoints. TSA agents may have to un-wrap packages for security reasons. Nobody likes a last-minute newspaper quick-wrap job; so try to wrap the gifts upon arrival or ship them before you leave.
TSA also reminds passengers to put all undeveloped film and cameras with film in a carry-on bag, because the checked baggage screening equipment can damage undeveloped film.
Security requires all coats and jackets to go through the X-ray machine for inspection; so save yourself a little time and remove your jacket while waiting in the screening line. Take all metal objects, change, cell phones, keys, etc., out of your pockets and have them ready to deposit into the bin provided for you.
Another bit of advice from personal experience is to always wear socks when you are flying. Screeners will often times ask you to remove your shoes when going through the security checkpoint, and a barefoot walk on an airport floor is not high on my list of top ten enjoyable activities.
Safety and security is another big part of traveling during the holiday season. TSA encourages passengers to be aware of suspicious activity in and around your immediate surroundings. Inform the security agents at the airport if you are concerned about an unattended item or any suspicious activity.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Be extra cautious if you are carrying a heavy load of packages or bags through the airport. This can distract your attention from everything else going on around you. Make sure you never leave any of your baggage unattended, and never carry or look after the baggage of another person.
The holidays can be a stressful time, so don't make things any harder on yourself by attempting to rush through the airport like a kid chasing down the ice cream truck.
Take note of this advice on holiday travel so you can focus on enjoying your trip, rather than worrying about whether or not you are going to catch your flight.
Have a safe and happy holiday!