How to Get a Pre-9/11 Airport Security Experience – And Keep Your Shoes On

Did you hear about the woman who took off her clothes at the airport to protest the TSA?

Actually she was wearing a bikini, but you get the point: there is still a lot of anger out there over intrusive and time-consuming security.

Listen as FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney and Editor Anne McDermott discuss – keeping your shoes on!

Is Airport Security Worse than Ever?

Yes, air travel has changed since 9/11. We are herded into long lines where we are forced to remove our shoes, undergo X-rays and have our bags searched. Breezing through the airport minutes before the plane takes off is a thing of the past. Or is it?

See Worst TSA Outrages

I’m here to tell you I just had a great experience at security. And maybe you can too – with PreCheck.

Three Ways to Get a Faster, Easier Security Experience

1. TSA’s New PreCheck Program

This is still in the experimental stage, but it’s going so well, it’s just been expanded to 28 more airports.

What you get:

  • Keep your shoes on, belt on, jacket on
  • Keep liquids in your bag
  • Wallet stays on your person
  • Laptop stays in its case
  • In many cases, metal detectors are used instead of body scanner machines

See Rick Seaney get a body scan and a pat-down

How to join:

  • Elite miles members of American and Delta’s miles programs get invitations to join (Alaska, United and US Airways will participate in the near future)
  • Enrol in government programs like SENTRI, NEXUS and Global Entry (check out the online applications)

What to know:

  • You give up a some personal information in the application process
  • No one is guaranteed PreCheck: TSA says it will “always incorporate random and unpredictable security”

Remember the way flying used to be – when stewardesses wore girdles?

Listen as FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney gives Editor Anne McDermott some much needed ‘packing light’ tips:

2. Become a Pro-active Packer

This means from now on, you always use a carryon. You avoid bag fees and the long wait at the baggage carousel. Some tips:

  • Fill those coat pockets (socks, underwear, T-shirts) to save room in your carryon
  • Try vacuum-sealed bags to flatten clothing
  • If flying on Spirit, try this bag to avoid the airline’s carryon bag fee

3. Spread Out in Empty Seats

Impossible in this day and age? Not if you fly Malyasia-based low-cost carrier AirAsia X, which offers passengers the chance to reserve empty seats around them for a modest fee (and if they get filled, you get a refund).

By the way – the bikini-clad passenger I mentioned up top? Her protest was held at an airport in New Hampshire – in February. Have to admire that kind of dedication, but on the whole, I think PreCheck is a much better solution.

More from Rick Seaney:

Keep Your Shoes On: A Return to Hassle-Free Flights

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Published: February 15, 2012