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Planning Ahead Pays Off as Airport Security Intensifies

It’s no surprise that security measures are multiplying following December 25th’s botched bombing. And while you’re unlikely to encounter a full-body scanner while traveling domestic (at least for now), nearly all airports will be ramping up bag searches, pat downs, and random screenings in 2010. But does this actually translate into more delays?

Yes, but the delays aren’t as bad as you’d think.

Both Los Angeles International and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport experienced some friction from increased security and screening measures, but overall delays have been scarce. In fact, it has actually been paranoid passengers—some arriving up to four hours early for their flights—that have created the most trouble for airports like Detroit Metropolitan.

International travelers can expect a slightly more difficult time at airports, especially when flying to the United States. Canada is actually enforcing a temporary carry-on bag ban on U.S. bound flights, restricting passengers to laptops, purses, cameras, diaper bags, and a few other essentials. This measure aims to cut down on delays at security checkpoints, where holiday waits were as long as three hours. Three-hour delays were also reported in British airports, but these lengthier wait times should ease as holiday traffic declines.

So how can you deal with delays? The same way you have been for years.

(1) Arrive early. Give yourself a buffer of about one to one and a half hours for domestic flights. If you’re flying from a U.S. airport to another country, give yourself a full two hours. If you’re flying to the U.S. from an airport outside of the country, you may want to budget a little extra time—from two to three hours.

(2) Pack neatly. Make sure your Ziploc full of liquids is within easy reach, and pull your laptop out before you get to the head of the line. Packing your clothes neatly will also make it easier (and faster) for security agents to screen your belongings.

(3) Check in online. Not only will this help you avoid the ticket counter line, it will secure your seat on the flight. The earlier you check in, the less likely you are to be bumped to a later flight.

(4) Look for delays. Before you leave home, check your flight’s status online. Then if there is a delay, you can wait it out from the comfort of your home or arrange an alternate travel plan.


My name: Kate Beall

How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.

Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.

First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.

View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.

Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.

Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.



Thanks for the 4 pointers. While they are the same old ways, they are also easily forgotten. This post will serve as a reminder to travellers on how to avoid delays for their flights.

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