5 Things You May Not Know about Airport Security (But Should)

Getting through security is probably a traveler’s biggest hurdle before boarding the plane but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant or long, drawn-out experience, particularly if you sign up for the TSA’s PreCheck program (you keep your shoes on, among other things). Knowing in advance what to expect will make it easier.

5 Things to Know about Airport Security

You’ll find more information at the Transportation Security Administration website.

1. No ID? You probably won’t miss your flight

As the TSA puts it:

“We understand passengers occasionally arrive at the airport without an ID, because of losing it or inadvertently leaving it at home. If this happens to you, it does not necessarily mean you won’t be allowed to fly. If you are willing to provide additional information, we have other ways to confirm your identity, like using publicly available databases, so you can reach your flight.” –TSA.gov

2. The PreCheck interview may take less than 5 minutes

You can enroll online but you must bring ID and other documents for an in-person meeting where fingerprints will be taken. According to a recent enrollee in the Dallas area, the process was a breeze: “It was easy and the interview didn’t even take three minutes.”

3. We give officers good reasons to search bags

Do not pack banned items in carry-ons or you’ll slow yourself (and others down). Week after week, guns are confiscated as well as smoke bombs, knives and other obvious no-nos, as well as countless bottles of water. See a list of banned items here.

4. They don’t really want your money

According to news reports, travelers leave hundreds of thousands of dollars behind after passing through security checkpoints – almost all of it in change from pockets. Wouldn’t you rather keep your coins? But unless you painstakingly scratch your name and phone number onto every penny, there’s no way it can be returned so don’t leave it behind in the first place.

5. Disabled or have a medical condition? You don’t have to go it alone

Call the TSA Cares help line at 1-855-787-2227 for assistance or information, but call 72 hours ahead of your flight. If you like, you can be provided with a Passenger Support Specialist; these professionals also work with wounded service personnel, those who wear specific religious clothing or head coverings and others.

Bonus: TSA agents sometimes serenade travelers

They do at Los Angeles International, anyway, and credit goes to the TSA Chorus. Its members sing while off-duty, usually during certain holidays and at Christmas time.

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Updated: April 9, 2015