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Airport and seaport security is ever tightening, and even as the liquids and gels-rules are getting a little looser around the world, other regulations are piling up along with blacklists and whitelists and whatnot else.
Security officers are also changing. Some years ago they were mostly untrained young men and women working their way through some school or other, but that is not the case anymore. These days, security officers are trained in everything from profiling to lockpicking and body language. While there were a chance, in earlier days, of concealing items of either embarrassing or unlawful status in e.g. the lining of your suitcase, modern high-res x-ray equipment will see it just as clear as if it had been taped to the outside.
Security lines at airports are moving faster these days than just a couple if years ago, but even through the difficult times, the number of passengers per day is growing. This means that even as efficiency increases, there will sometimes be lines. What can you do to avoid lines and extra time spent being screened, patted down or having your bags searched?
Even though security checkpoints today use randomizing technology to select passengers for extra screening, the officers themselves have some say in the matter, and if you behave in the “wrong” way, you run a greater risk of having to spend extra time with the security people. So what should you do to avoid this? There’s no point in trying to actively fool the system or security officers. If you have something to hide, then unless you are a psychopath it will be very hard to get past trained security personnel. These tips will only work if you are generally an honest and well meaning person just trying to catch your flight.
– Pay attention to your clothes. Personally I have been patted down many times, but only extremely rarely have I been selected by the officers, or exposed to profiling or questioning as a result of some suspicion or other. Make sure your clothes are clean and whole. Wear a shirt and jeans or chinos. If you wear a suit, make sure it’s in a relatively unwrinkled state.
– Pay attention to yourself. You don’t have to be clean shaven or get a haircut just before you travel, but be clean and smell okay.
– Try to avoid drinking at least 12 hours before you show up at the checkpoint. The smell of alcohol, changes in your pupils and your body odour will set off bells in the head of any observant security officer that could get you an unplanned delay with security.
– Be sure to do as you’re told. If you’re uncertain about procedures or requirements, ask a security officer before you enter the checkpoint. Don’t protest instructions while you’re in the checkpoint – if you still want to, do it to a shift supervisor after the officers are done with you.
– Check your carry-on luggage before approaching security. Make sure it’s packed tidily. Remember that the x-ray operator has about 10 seconds (at the most) to see what you are bringing, and if he or she can’t see it, you’ll be sent to manual bag check, and that takes time. Keep things separated and if you have electronics, cables or other similar things, take them out of your bag or suitcase and hand them over separately. Such things, when in a pile inside your luggage will be hard to see through.
– Treat the security officer like a human. When you approach, pay attention, listen to instructions and feel free to say hello, good morning, good afternoon or whatever salutation is fitting. It will be appreciated and you will signal that you aim to make the the clearing procedure as painless as possible. Remember, the security officers are often trained to read body language, and they will detect if you have dishonest intentions. Happy travel!
write by Daria