TypewriterFrom The Urbach Letter May 2012

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Speeding Through the Airport

Was there ever a time when the total flying experience wasn't horrible in every possible way? (Maybe there was, but my memory's not that good.) Now, we all have to deal with long lines, overpriced airport everything, invasive security procedures, humorless TSA agents, long waits, dirty planes, rude passengers, overworked flight attendants, lost bags, and... the list of traveling woes continues... There's a Seinfeld joke in there somewhere, but nobody's in a laughing mood anymore.

I'm sure you've got your own survival strategies, and it's likely that your reaction to what follows will include lots of "Yeah, I do that's." Nonetheless, what I'm hoping is that you'll find at least one good idea that'll make your air travel life slightly less awful.

The Security Checkpoint
Everybody wants to get through security with as little hassle as possible, yet few have a systematic strategy to ensure it. However, if you watch what experienced travelers do, you'll see some things worth copying to speed yourself through the checkpoint. They have a definite process for loading bins; most will load three in a specific sequence:

Click to enlarge

Before approaching the bin stack, everything that can possibly trigger the walk-through metal detector or whole body scanner goes in jacket pockets (preferred) or zippered carry-on bag: watch, pen, keys, phone, change, etc. Travel pros wear little if any jewelry. If worn, it's removed and placed in a zippered pocket or bag. Belts and jackets come off.

First Bin
Shoes come off and go in the first bin. That way, they'll be the first to emerge from the x-ray machine and can be slipped on before other items. (For obvious reasons, loafers and slip-on shoes are much preferred. Also obvious: wearing socks makes the journey through the detector gauntlet somewhat less disgusting than going barefoot.)

Second Bin
Jackets go in the next bin, with the Ziploc bag of liquids placed on top. It would be logical for liquids to go on the bottom, but TSA prefers to have them visible. However, after your shoes, your jacket will emerge from x-ray next and can be quickly donned, keeping hands free.

Third Bin
Laptop or tablet, preferably in a TSA-approved carry-on or laptop sleeve goes in the third and last bin, followed by a roll-aboard (wheels up) or other carry-on bag, if any.

In this way, you can be off to your gate in minimum time, with the least chance that something will be left behind or snatched away. Happy traveling.


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(c) Copyright 2002-2012 Victor Urbach
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