Air travelers who follow three simple tips, which can be summarized as IN, OUT, and OFF, will contribute significantly to steps the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking to ensure aviation security and make travel as enjoyable as possible during any time of the year, especially during holiday seasons.

Air travel during any major holiday is expected to be heavy. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) will do everything they can to help travelers move smoothly through security checkpoints. Employee leave will be restricted, managers will be working with screeners, and checkpoints may open earlier or close later, depending on the airport. Also, vendor deliveries will be scheduled during slow hours and extra attention will be given to preventive maintenance so screening equipment doesn’t have to be taken off-line when the checkpoint is open.  

Following the three travel tips will prepare air travelers to go through checkpoints and drastically reduce chances of a more thorough secondary screening being required. Call it “Three for Three” – three tips that can avoid secondary screening that, on average, takes three minutes per person. The cumulative effect can be substantial, especially around the holidays, because travel is concentrated in only a few days.

Here’s what to do when approaching the checkpoint:

IN – Place all metal items IN a carry-on bag while waiting in line.  This would include coins, cell phone, keys, lighter, and any other metal.
OUT – Take laptops OUT of their cases.
OFF – Take coats, hats and shoes OFF.  It is also a good idea to remove your belt if you have a large, metal buckle.

During the holidays, there are always more people traveling, so the security screening can take longer than usual.  You can help speed it up by following the rules, listening to the TSA personnel, and coming prepared.
If you come prepared and are ready to efficiently go through the checkpoint, it helps the security screeners immensely, allowing them to concentrate on their security mission while making the travel experience more pleasant for everyone.

It also is a good time to revisit the general TSA Travel Tips that are familiar to frequent fliers:

Everyone, even frequent fliers, should double check the content of their pockets and bags, particularly carry-on luggage, to ensure no prohibited items were inadvertently packed.

Think about what you are wearing before going to the airport. Metal clothing or metal jewelry are likely to require additional screening.

Pack undeveloped film in carry-on bags. Checked baggage screening equipment will damage undeveloped film.

Wrap gifts upon arrival at your destination. If gifts require additional screening, screeners may have to un-wrap them.

Do not over pack bags. If screeners have to open them, closing overstuffed bags can be difficult and result in delays for checked baggage.

If TSA screeners need to open a locked bag for inspection they may have to break the lock. There are now products on the market that have uniform locking systems that enable TSA during a required inspection, to open and relock the bag. Passengers without such devices should consider leaving bags unlocked.

Always check the TSA web site before you travel to make sure you have the most current rules and policies.