Once you're satisfied that you now hold in your hand anything that could possibly be classified as a liquid you stand up and realise you have nothing to put these belongings into. Of course, the transparent plastic bags aren't within reach, so you start walking back against the flow, uncomfortably clutching at your now open bag and a few loose personal items.
Once at the safety of the plastic bag dispenser, you take a moment to collect yourself, you close your bag, liquids now at the ready, its time to join the queue again. All this and before even being asked to take one layer of clothing off at a time as you try to work out what an earth you are wearing that is making the security alarm go off. Surely it doesn’t have to be this way ?
It doesn’t. We have researched and compiled a list of easy and effective ways to help make your airport experience far easier and breezier. Less time spent sweating and fretting at security is more time spent browsing duty-free or getting ahead of the game and finding a seat at the boarding gate.
1. Know your liquids
Make this a part of your packing regime. Set aside anything you know will be classed as a liquid. Many of these items will likely be toiletries and so often the last thing to be packed anyway. Invest in a transparent toiletry bag (or even a pack of your very own ziplock plastic bags) as being able to keep your liquids stored this way from the get-go will save you time and annoyances later on. Keep your toiletry bag, whatever its form, separate from your other bag until the final pack check has been done and you’re about to leave. Pop said toiletry bag and its contents into the very top of your carry-on and there you have it. No need for the middleman, no running back to the plastic bag dispenser, your liquids are as ready as they'll ever be.
2. Don’t wait, hydrate
We all understand the importance of hydration and how this becomes even more important whilst flying. Take along a reusable water bottle of your choice and keep yourself hydrated at the airport during check-in and finish off the last few drops by the time you reach security. Liquids over 100ml are not allowed through security, however, the water bottle that no longer contains the liquid, is allowed through. Refill your water bottle at any of the drinking fountains located around the airport once through security and you'll be happily hydrated for the rest of your journey.
3. Tote your techAn important aspect of business travel is to be able to easily and securely transport your electrical equipment from A to B. Not only this but ideally, you want to be able to have quick and easy access to these items while going through airport security as well as during the flight itself. Purchase a carry-on that allows you to do just that. Bags with specifically designed exterior attachments enable you to keep your laptop securely packed but easily reachable. Now, where can we get one of them? ;-)
4. Ditch the bling
At least for the time being. We all love our accessories as much as the next frequent flier, but for the purpose of hassle free security checkouts, limit yourself. Buttons, zips and even bra underwiring have been known to set off those pesky alarms bells. No watch, no problem, the phone in your pocket is not too much further to look than your wrist and if your fully charged phone were to die on you, for some inexplicable reason, the many in-flight information screens will be sure to keep you running on time. Pack your precious items safely in your carry-on and don't look back (at those less fortunate than you fumbling to rid themselves of their chains) knowing you're well on your way to a stress-free experience.
5. Avoid sharp objects
Most people seem to get caught out on this one. Avoid sharp objects that could be seen as a threat such as nail scissors, nail clippers, nail files, penknives and corkscrews. These potentially harmful items are often confiscated from passengers carry-on luggage. To discourage unwanted hassle at security, make sure to double check that you’re not accidentally packing.
6. Choose your shoes
Wisely. No matter the weather, rain hail or shine, try to choose a pair of shoes according to the fact that you will be shortly boarding a plane. Boots with a thick heal are a no go, realistically as are any shoes with a heel. Unless of course, you enjoy the experience of being caught off guard in odd socks, perhaps one of which has a rather unsightly hole where the big toe likes to make an appearance. Pack your best shoes and wear your slippers for the flight. Of course, they don’t actually have to be slippers (unless you really want to) but anything more towards a slip on style of shoe than a lace up boot, is a step in the right direction swiftly past security.
7. Limit your kitIf you're not going to need it in the foreseeable future (i.e. your current trip) don’t pack it. Really try and be ruthless here, it’s true what they say, less is more when it comes to travel. Not only does it lighten your load and save your shoulders in the long run, but it also keeps at bay that overwhelming feeling which could arise when unexpectedly, security seemingly rather randomly plucks your bag from the lot, tips out its contents with no remorse whatsoever, leaving you to clean up the mess, of what used to be your neatly folded and perfectly packed luggage. Save yourself the trouble and pack less, if for no other reason than to be able to repack your strewn about belongings in record time.
8. Peel off the unwanted layersThis one ties in nicely with number 7 as once you become familiar with the less is more concept while packing, you’ll quickly realise the benefits of having that extra space. Now you should have room to squeeze in your ever-so-warm but also ever-so-annoying to carry, outside attire, that is no longer necessary and has already become just another bothersome layer to worry about while going through security. Swap it for your toiletry bag and you’re good to go.
9. Arrive Early
This might be an obvious one to most, but it really is worth it. The early goers will know why; the smaller the queues, the less waiting time and a general sense of stress-free and relative ease whilst at the airport are but some of the advantages attributed to the early birds.
10. Meditate while you wait
This may sound a little out there, but mindfulness is a proven way to keep yourself calm and collected even in the most stressful of situations. The beauty of it is, it can be done anywhere and at any time and the more you practise, the easier and the more effective it will become. If you struggle to calm your mind in busy environments, try downloading a collection of meditations to your iPod to help drown out the noise. And maybe buy some noise-canceling earphones. You might find yourself better able to deal with any unexpected invasions of privacy quite gracefully and perhaps even be open to flashing the security personnel a smile as you wave goodbye and good riddance.
Keep these ideas in mind the next time you fly and prepare to be prepared for the unavoidable. A few small changes to your packing regime while still in the safety of your own home will make the world of difference in terms of ease and efficiency once at the airport. A couple of handy accessories could make the transition from amateur to frequent flier that bit more enjoyable.
You might even surprise yourself as you realise that you are no longer a frazzled victim of airport security, but instead an experienced and stress-free traveller and example to all others of the way it could and absolutely should be. It wouldn't be outrageous to say that you might suddenly find you have a skip in your step and a smile on your face as you walk on through security without even so much as a dodgy look from the nearest security guard, all in the knowledge that, pretty soon you'll be flying high.