I am very fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do. My day job has me traveling every single week, so I consider myself a bit of an expert when it comes to travel. I have about 100,000 miles flown this year, so I’ve done it once or twice.
However, there is one thing I will not do: Travel during the Holidays!
You may not have that choice, however. Perhaps your family lives in Florida, and you live in Michigan. Perhaps they are in New York, and you are in Texas. Perhaps your family is in Kansas, and you’d rather be in Hawaii.
Whatever the reason, sometimes travel is just unavoidable. The reason that travel sucks during the holidays is not because of the volume of travelers. Summer Weekends actually take the honor of being the busiest travel day(s) of the year. The problem with Holiday travel is the volume of inexperienced travelers.
Frequent flyers have a term for inexperienced travelers…they call them (you?) Kettles. This is after Ma and Pa Kettle, who had a show in like the 20’s, and were very very country. It’s a bit of an insult, but I actually have a hard time refuting that after having traveled behind a number of these individuals. You know how TSA shouts “Shoes off, belts off, computers out of their bags, take out all liquids, gels and aerosols” constantly? That’s why it bothers the heck out of me when someone doesn’t take off their shoes and it holds me up!
The Solution to Holiday Travel
Well, the best solution is to get status with an airline so that you can go to the priority lanes, then get the TSA PreCheck so that you can avoid the main lines. That may not be realistic for you at this point in time.
TSA has a program which allows certain passengers to bypass the main line, and go through a metal detector without taking off their shoes or belts, and keeping their computers and liquids in their bag. Pretty much the only thing you have to do is take metal out of your pockets. For a full description of the program, see the TSA PreCheck Website.
Currently, only those passengers who opt-in will have the opportunity to volunteer to participate.Participating airlines will permit some of their frequent flyers, based on TSA criteria, to opt-in through the airline’s system. Participating airlines have contacted eligible frequent travelers with an invitation to opt-in. Once the passenger opts in, the airline identifies the individual as a participant when submitting the passenger reservation information to TSA’s Secure Flight system.Current members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS programs are already eligible to participate in the TSA Pre✓™ concept if they are flying on a participating airline at a participating airport. Those passengers need to place their PASS ID in the ‘Known Traveler Number’ field while booking their reservation. Interested passengers who are not eligible through their airline and are not already a member of a CBP Trusted Traveler program may still be able to opt-in to TSA Pre✓™ by applying for one of the CBP eligible programs. Click here to learn more: globalentry.gov.
Track Wait Times
In the scenario where you must choose the best line to go through…follow George Clooney’s advice from Up In the Air. It stereotypes, but I’ve found that he is mostly correct.
The TSA Agents are Children in their Hearts!
Carry-On Bags are your Friend
Credit Cards – A Free Checked Bag
Cheat the System
Get to the Airport Early
Sign up for Automatic Updates
Lastly, Your Security Checklist
- Your Ticket
- Your ID (Drivers License or Passport preferred)
- If you have an electronic ticket (on your phone) then use the scanner they provide
- then, Jacket
- then, Shoes
- then, Belt
- then, Underpants (just kidding…but I wonder what they would say if you did)
- Laptop out of your bag (tablets stay in the bag)
- Liquids out of your bag
- Everything out of your pocket (if they only have a metal detector, then only take your phone, keys, and other metal out)
- If they are using a backscatter machine (pictured below), ask to opt out.
- This means you do not want an x-ray scan, and that they will give you a manual pat down. This is a safety concern. ALWAYS do this if you are pregnant, old, young, or particularly weak. I recommend everyone opts-out.
- Put in your laptop
- If there is room, you can also put your wallet, phone, keys, etc. and belt in the same bin. Don’t put anything on top of your computer
- Jackets can go in their own bin
- Bags go on the belt
- Shoes go directly on the belt
- This is a pet peeve of mine…Shoes don’t need their own bin!
- A purse, if it is open, can go in a bin
|If you see this machine…ask for an opt-out immediately|