Just like any living organism, airports grow and adapt to fluxes in weather, number of travelers, and, of course, security levels. Airport security procedures have changed dramatically since Southwest’s first flight, and they’ll continue to adapt as technology advances with innovations for safer, easier, and more thorough screening. To make traveling as stress-free as possible, remember these key tips when packing and preparing for a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check point.
Know what you can and cannot bring: What you can pack in your checked bag is different than what you can pack in your carryon. Any liquids that are larger than 3.4 ounces cannot be carried in your carryon bag and must be packed in your checked luggage. Any small liquids that you do plan to carryon must be stored in a clear, quart-sized bag. For more extensive information on specific items, check the TSA traveler and Southwest.com.
Remember that TSA screening changes: Screening procedures vary from airport to airport and can even change daily depending on TSA programs and updated technology. What you experience on one trip may vary from what you’ll get this time around, so be prepared for differences.
Be prepared for basic screening procedures: Most travelers are required to take laptops and liquids out of their carryon luggage for the x-ray machine; therefore, put them somewhere easy to reach, like the top pocket. Wear slip on shoes that you can take off and put on quickly, and remove jackets before getting up to the scanners—they have to be screened too. Also, have your appropriate ID and documents ready to go! You may hold onto these through screening if you feel uncomfortable leaving them in a bin, and at some airports a TSO will check your documents after you yourself have been screened. It’s always a good idea to pay attention to those screened before you, as well. It’s an easy way to see what you’ll need to do (or not do).
Maintain a good attitude: Going through security takes time and patience, two things most travelers don’t have in surplus. Remember, it’s a tedious process that everyone must undergo, so simply make the most of it. Keep in mind your destination, and let that set the tone—security merely brings you one step closer to whatever is waiting for you when you land. If you have a fun, laid-back attitude about it, you’ll find the process goes by quickly.
Take advantage of available options: Southwest offers Business Select Customers and Rapid Rewards A-List Members a Fly By Priority Lane, which gives you priority at the ticket counter, as well as access to faster security lines in some cities. Also, as the TSA shifts their methodology to more risk-based screening, they have made TSA PreCheck available in many airports. TSA PreCheck allows Customers, who have applied or opted in to the program, to go through security checkpoints in a more efficient, separate PreCheck lane.