Airport Security – What Should I Expect?

Airport security is a necessary evil, and most travelers are co-operative and understanding that this is all in the interest of their safety.  It’s important to arrive early at the airport, and the whole security experience is less taxing.  It is only frustrating when you are in a big hurry, and worried you will miss your flight.

If you are fortunate enough to be flying business class, there is sometimes a priority lane in some airports which you can use to avoid some lineup.

The first step is liquids and gels.  You will be reminded about this, and asked to dump any drinks and excess liquids before checking in.  Best to have your coffee or drink AFTER security or it will be a big gulp or a waste.  All your liquids and gels must be placed in a small Ziploc bag which will be provided – any excess must be thrown out.

Once you snake your way through the line up, you will need to prepare for the metal detection.

  • Have your boarding pass readily available as it is scanned (no need to have photo ID or passports at this stage)
  • Empty your pockets of all metal and place them in the plastic bin (you don’t need to put your wallet in the bin)
  • Remove your coat or jacket (fold and place in the bin)
  • Put cell phones and any other electronic devices in the bin
  • Remove laptop computer and put it in a separate bin
  • Remove your belt and shoes (especially for travel to and through the USA)
  • Place your Ziploc bag of liquids and gels so they are visible and accessible
  • Walk through the scanner only when asked (it needs to reset from the last passenger, and they have to pay attention when you walk through)
  • Make no jokes or comments about security, hijackings, or terrorist activity – they will be taken seriously

You may be randomly selected for a body scan.  This is new technology being implemented, and today you can opt for a body “pat down” instead.  The scan is quick and the image is reviewed by security personnel in another room.

For the courtesy of other travellers, when through the scanner, push all your belongings to the very end of the counter.  From time to time, security personnel may review the contents of scanned bags with you.  Listen carefully to their questions and answer them directly.  Electronic devices may be subjected to a swipe test – this is a test for explosive material and takes a few seconds.