Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: Packing Smart to Get Through Security Screening a Little Faster

Officers searching a bag.
Tips for Non TSA Pre™ Lanes: One of the biggest causes for delays in the checkpoint lanes are bag checks. When a bag must be searched, the X-ray belt must stop until an officer can retrieve the bag for a secondary search. When the belt stops, the line stops. The starting and stopping resulting from the bag searches is similar to the accordion effect in a traffic jam. What can be done about it? Well, here are some tips to avoid the most common causes for bag searches:
  1. Large electronic items, dense metallic or crystal items, homemade gizmos, or anything that might look odd should be removed from bags to be run separately through the X-ray. That way, our officers can get a better look at the items on the X-ray. When in doubt, leave it out.
  2. Double check the TSA Prohibited Items List or use the Can I Bring My…  tool to ensure there aren’t any prohibited items in your carry-on bag.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the 3-1-1 liquid policy and be sure to remove the 3-1-1 baggie from carry-on bags prior to sending them through the X-ray.
  4. Guns, replica guns, ordnance, and inert ordnance will bring the lane and checkpoint to a complete halt and can lead to missed flights, delays, and even cancelations.
  5. Remove laptops from carry-ons and run them separately. Unless of course you have a “Checkpoint Friendly” laptop bag. Smaller laptops, netbooks, and tablets can stay in your bag. Read this blog post for more information on what can stay in and what has to come out.
  6. Pack clothes on the bottom and electronics and any other items that could trigger a search on top or in separate pockets. I know this isn’t always possible, but this way, if we do need to search your bag, we won’t have to dig for the item.
  7. Lastly, our officers will have an easier time inspecting bags via the X-ray if items are organized and neatly packed. A cluttered bag with items strewn about can make it hard to clear anomalies and result in a bag search.

Example of organized bag and cluttered bag.

Tips for TSA Pre™ Lanes: When traveling through TSA Pre™ lanes, your laptop and 3-1-1 baggie can remain in your carry-on. Ironically, removing them from your bag can slow the screening process. Learn more about how TSA Pre™ works and how to enroll here: http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck

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29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whose brilliant idea was it to randomly allow non-frequent travellers access to TSA Pre-Check? I had to pay a fee and be background screened. Now I see in the Precheck lines travel N00bs who have no idea what they are doing who hold the line up to the point the Pre check lines are LONGER than the non-pre check lines.

Thanks, TSA, for wasting my time and money on what ends up being no help at all for me!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the distinction between PreCheck and non-PreCheck lanes: when your agency has designed a system such that on the outgoing trip, a passenger might have to remove their liquids, but on their return trip, having been deemed a non-threat by your BDO mind-readers, can leave their liquids in their carry-ons, don't be surprised when there's confusion and slow-downs by passengers not following your rules.

The more rules you pile on, the more confusion that ensues.

But what do I know? Not like I have a degree in anti-terrorism or anything.

Anonymous said...

get rid of the pre thing its obvious that its not working, people dont want to stand in lines so get rid of it. stop trying to satisfy the public and trying to make things "easier" for the few.

Susan Richart said...

If anyone believes it's Pistole's vaunted BDO's who let travelers into the Pre-Check line en masse, then I have a bridge I'd like to see you. (Remember, the GAO has said the BDO program is not worth the money that's being spent on it.)

Pre-Check has become a boondoggle, just like everything the TSA does.

Expedited screening, without MMW but with HHMD, should be the level that all travelers receive unless the TSA can articulate a reason for a higher level of screening. And no, buying a ticket to travel on an airplane is NOT an articulable reason.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

RB said...

In my opinion TSA's Pre Check is just another program that has been so badly managed that it has become less effective with time.

For starters PreCheck started out as a paid option for travelers. Then TSA expanded the program with "managed inclusion" which results in people who haven't paid extra to get Pre Check at times.

Case in point, I flew a round trip last month and at my originating airport noticed that my ticket was Pre Check annotated. Yet on my return flight I did not get Pre Check. So was I a greater threat on my return flight? Seriously, isn't that what Pre Check is all about, giving TSA the opportunity to pay more attention to the unknowns or more risky travelers?

The screening I received on my return leg had issues. The biggest, I apparently alarmed the body scanner and the TSA agent put his hands on my without warning or explanation. I find that offensive. I had neither the opportunity to ask for a change of gloves nor the opportunity to ask for a less public pat down.

It is pretty clear that TSA wants as many people screened by Pre Check as possible yet TSA has bungled the program so badly that no one seems to have any concept of what Pre Check is suppose to do.

The simple answer is to use Pre Check level screening for everyone and then use the other tools available to TSA if needed on a person by person basis. I would think that one of the overpaid TSA executives could figure this out for themselves but that apparently is expecting to much for America's worst federal agency.

Anonymous said...

Why do you persist with the 3.4-1-1 policy, when there is absolutely no scientific justification for it and you have never, in almost eight years of this idiocy, found a single "dangerous" liquid?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of getting through security quickly, I recently traveled in Europe and security was much faster and efficient there. The screening seemed to be just as effective too.

For example, I didn't have to remove my shoes. I set off the metal detector in Germany and they brought out a handheld metal detector and patted down only the area that alarmed. The only thing that was confusing was how they treated my laptop (in a TSA compliant bag) and a tablet that was also in the bag. Some airports wanted the laptop out and some wanted the tablet out.

In contrast, traveling in the US still requires shoe removal. If I set off the metal detector, even in an airport that doesn't have the body scanners, I'll get a full body patdown. What happened to the wands in the US? Then I will get an explosive test swab that is known to false alarm on common household items such as soap. All of this helps contribute to slowdowns that lead to long lines. I didn't see long lines in Europe that often and they still moved much faster than anything in the US.

Anonymous said...

I continue to wait for some justification for active duty military being included in pre-check, but not retired military or holders of current DoD or LE background investigations. Citizenship and background investigations are not required to be active duty in the military, so if it is really about safety, then why are potentially unscreened non-citizens allowed through? sounds like it is just pandering to an admirable group to get PR, not adjusting the rules to ease screening on those who present a lower likelihood of threat.

Anonymous said...

End PreCheck now! TSA has not provided any data to justify it as being better than pre-9/11 security procedures. Pre-9/11 procedures would make security a faster experience for everybody, not just those who feel entitled.

Anonymous said...

The biggest reasons for slow screening are:

1. The shoe removal carnival practiced nowhere else in the world;

2. The 3.4-1-1 liquids policy that has zero science to back it up;

3. The use of slow, untested naked body scanners that have never detected a genuine threat and result in tens of thousands of pointless gropings of innocent passengers every single day.

But instead of owning up to the disaster it has created, TSA wants us to think the problem is the way we pack our backs. Sad, pathetic, and, sadly, typical of this worthless agency.

Anonymous said...

"In my opinion TSA's Pre Check is just another program that has been so badly managed that it has become less effective with time."

My opinion is that it should be made mandatory for travel in the US. Either a yearly subscription of flat fee for each travel incident should be levied on travelers to pay for the costs of security. If a potential traveler shows up at the checkpoint without being properly vetted beforehand then they don't travel. The data gleaned from the program could be sold to commercial enterprises to further reduce costs.

Time to think outside the box.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments on the confusion created by PreCheck. I recently traveled with my mother, and she was blessed with a special PreCheck marker, while I was not. We were sent to the same line in the tiny checkpoint, and confusion ensued as the guy manning the entrance tried to explain the different (and completely illogical) rules each one of us had to follow. The rules are practically opposite of each other in every aspect of security: shoes, belt, jacket, liquid, laptop, body scanner. My mother, a smart woman who does not often travel in the US, immediately summed it up by asking the man why he was trying to make up so many silly and confusing rules to screen two people traveling together.

Everyone should be screened by PreCheck standard, as is done abroad. Stop all the non-Pre stupidity.

Anonymous said...

bump

The biggest reasons for slow screening are:

1. The shoe removal carnival practiced nowhere else in the world;

2. The 3.4-1-1 liquids policy that has zero science to back it up;

3. The use of slow, untested naked body scanners that have never detected a genuine threat and result in tens of thousands of pointless gropings of innocent passengers every single day.

But instead of owning up to the disaster it has created, TSA wants us to think the problem is the way we pack our backs. Sad, pathetic, and, sadly, typical of this worthless agency.

TravelerSLC said...

I have a lot of difficulty taking off my shoes and especially putting them back on. I can't reach my feet anymore, due to arthritis and a bone condition, so I have to carry a long shoe-horn in my carry-on brief case. If they don't set off the metal detector or show up in the full body scan, why do they have to be removed? Why does a belt with a small buckle have to be removed? It could easily be checked by TSA when I limp through the screening.

TravelerSLC said...

I agree with most of the concerns posted on this TSA blog. I wish however that people would be more civil. Do you actually think that rude rants help the situation or convince TSA to change? Kindly vent your frustrations on a punching bag, and learn to speak and write more politely.

Anonymous said...

Suggestion: Make the "Pre" stand for "Prerequisite". Demand that all air travel allow only travelers that have been previously screened. That will speed the lines and could generate revenue.

Jack Cage said...

Regarding the distinction between PreCheck and non-PreCheck lanes: when your agency has designed a system such that on the outgoing trip, a passenger might have to remove their liquids, but on their return trip, having been deemed a non-threat by your BDO mind-readers, can leave their liquids in their carry-ons, don't be surprised when there's confusion and slow-downs by passengers not following your rules.

RB said...

Last post posted on 3/5/14 @ 12:12 PM. So much for that claim of 24 hours West.

Anonymous said...

Only 2 more posts to get the "TSA's incredible intelligence supercedes all medical training!" nightmare off the front page of the blog!

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "Last post posted on 3/5/14 @ 12:12 PM. So much for that claim of 24 hours West."

In most cases comments are moderated within 24 hours. In some cases, it could take up to 48 hours, in some other cases, it could take longer. We all have other jobs we are assigned in addition to the Blog. I have also explained the time before, indicating that most or the time, it will be about a 24 hour window or so - but not always.

West
TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

West, you're backtracking. You said up to 48 hrs. Now it can be more? How long do the American taxpayers have to wait to see if their comments on a government website were deleted or not?

Inefficiency and arbitrary deletion by government employees is unacceptable. Your bosses should be fired for allowing it.

*screen shot*

Susan Richart said...

RB wrote:

"... The biggest, I apparently alarmed the body scanner and the TSA agent put his hands on my without warning or explanation. I find that offensive...."

Not only is that offensive, RB, it's an assault. You should have immediately called for the police and a supervisor. TSA screeners are not allowed to touch without your permission.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...RB sez - "Last post posted on 3/5/14 @ 12:12 PM. So much for that claim of 24 hours West.

"In most cases comments are moderated within 24 hours. In some cases, it could take up to 48 hours, in some other cases, it could take longer. We all have other jobs we are assigned in addition to the Blog. I have also explained the time before, indicating that most or the time, it will be about a 24 hour window or so - but not always.
WestTSA Blog Team
March 8, 2014 at 4:24 AM
_________________________________
Poppycock!

In recent months the posting of comments dry up after the "Tuesday Travel Tips" and are not resumed until sometime after Fridays "Look What We Did" back slapper.

Anonymous said...

bump

The biggest reasons for slow screening are:

1. The shoe removal carnival practiced nowhere else in the world;

2. The 3.4-1-1 liquids policy that has zero science to back it up;

3. The use of slow, untested naked body scanners that have never detected a genuine threat and result in tens of thousands of pointless gropings of innocent passengers every single day.

But instead of owning up to the disaster it has created, TSA wants us to think the problem is the way we pack our backs. Sad, pathetic, and, sadly, typical of this worthless agency.

Anonymous said...

"My opinion is that [PreCheck] should be made mandatory for travel in the US."

You mean go back to pre-9/11 security for all, but with payment of a fee and a background check? Why are the fee and background check needed to excercise a right as defined in U.S. law? 9/11 happened because cockpits were not secure and airline crews and passengers were told to cooperate with hijackers. 9/11 did not happen because a group of people carried boxcutters through the checkpoint. The cockpit security issue has been addressed, and crews and passengers will not cooperate in the future, so there is no need for a PreCheck "layer" at all. If you are scared to accept that, don't fly.

Ronald O'F said...

Funny how the TSA chides us to pack neatly, but their screeners rifle through our bags, messing up our neat packing, leaving bottles, jars, and bags open to spill liquids and powders all over our clothes.

Where are those pics on your weekly blotter, blotter team?

Screenshot

Kerry Macaitis said...

This is the hardest thing, trying to find HOW to post something. GETTING through non-pre-check lines is much better if there are enough employees on duty. 55 minutes in San Antonio on April 1 at 10:15 AM. The supervisor only had one line open...said he was short of employees. As a government employee, THAT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN. Poor planning, improper rules and regulations. I KNOW you have part-time employees. CALL THEM IN. This was at least half-way through a normal shift. No excuses for not calling in additional employees. I've written 3 emails, responses are only standardized stock paragraphs. Called the 1-888 number. THAT'S a joke because there is no way to talk to anybody or even leave a call-back request. WHAT A JOKE this blog page is. I've spent 2 hours trying to figure out how to post anything. DO YOU EVEN CARE, TSA? I think not.

Kerry Macaitis said...

Please advise whether or not my comment was received...had to do with 55 minute delay in San Antonio due to "understaffing" of agents? It disappeared while I was logging on.

Anonymous said...

The public shouldn't have to pay a fee to go through pre-screening. Our tax dollars do. Not allowing anyone who hadn't been previously screened seems like the opposite direction of a free society. The pre-screen procedure should be the norm. I do think that there are individuals that are traveling on passports or non-citizens that should be scrutinized closer. A common sense approach would be welcomed at our airports.