With airline security so crowded, it is easy to misplace, even lose possessions. Some luggage is so common it literally walks into the wrong hands; sometimes it is actually stolen right in front of the TSA inspectors. The TSA job is to protect the airline and your security, your luggage and carry on is your concern alone. Twice I encountered issues exiting security. The easy time was when the very tired German tourist in front of me took, my black Tumi bag (his had been re-put into the machine by TSA staff and mine came out first). The second was trickier: my fanny pack never came out of the scanner. When I said CALL THE POLICE RIGHT NOW, staff stretched all the way inside the belt and found it snuggling against the interior machinery.
- Do not wear jewelry that is white gold or heavy custom metals. Some precious metals do set off the machines. I found my three span ‘Cartier’ bracelet with one white gold band always sets off the bells. It is no longer invited to travel with me. Pearls seem to be ok as are various gold watches; but custom stuff, nix.
- Wear loafers or other non-tied shoes. My new favorites for travel are Rockport loafers. Cheap, smart in appearance and swathed in soft insoles and thick rubber soles. These do not have metal buckles and are excellent for the long walks that great travel can bring. Women who travel in high boots are nothing short of crazy, sneakers should never be worn especially overseas-they cry out ‘goofy tourist’.
- Put your cash and important papers in 2 places; one in a zip lock bag in the most secure place you can think of. I actually put one zip lock bag in my pants pocket. The zip bag and paper cash will not set off the machine. I put the other in a fanny pack, which is then enclosed in a larger carry-on bag so it cannot entangle. Within the fanny pack, all important documents which I will not need soon, are tucked in back and a small amount of cash and items I need immediately are in front: those might be my boarding pass, a credit card, $20 in cash for food, a pen, a lip balm, my phone.
- As George Clooney says in 'Up in the Air', do not get behind families with children! They always take a lot of time in security. You do not want to be separated from your luggage and valuables as they float through scanning and you are halted behind someone. Choose a line with business travelers. They move fast despite outing their computers. Similarly do not offer to wait for a family if you have sent your items on their way. Get in line to go through the poles immediately. My experience is that men with fancy buckles and necklaces are almost worse than families. Look around you and go for the cheetah travelers.
- Avoid expensive scarves or other light objects, which can disappear inadvertently or on purpose. Or tuck them somewhere tightly like into a zipped coat pocket or even into your shoes. There are no dirth of $5 fake pashminas to make you look the look, so why even bother traveling with the good stuff.
- Avoid heavy solid items like blocks of cheese; they will need to be looked at by personnel and could be confiscated. I once had a large rhinestone pin removed and inspected, as it had too many sharp star-like arms. I also had a long search which ended up with a metal hotel pen I had swiped that day from my room.
- Small generic bottles into which you pour cosmetics might not have ounces noted on them; these can be taken away as personnel cannot tell if they fit the 3.4 oz maximum allowed. Re-use hotel bottles which do label volume, but remember if you put shampoo in a body lotion bottle. More than once I have washed my long hair with Oil of Olay.