Thousands of skiers and snowboarders will be taking to the air on their way to the world's ski slopes this holiday season and throughout the winter. You already have heard about scanners that can see through your long underwear and patdowns that make lift checkers seem welcome.
OnTheSnow looked to two airline professionals, Captain Doug and Gala Reitz, who have traveled all over the world working for major commercial U.S. airlines.
Douglas Reitz is a pilot for American Airlines and Gala Reitz is a retired United Airlines flight attendant.
They have flown 11 million miles, served more than 610,000 passengers, and visited 54 countries over the past 34 years. They are the founders of the travel concierge service A Travel Crew.
The two offered some tips on getting through security as quickly and pleasantly as possible during an interview with OnTheSnow, so travelers can get on the snow that much faster.
"When you reach security," Doug said, "be cordial and use your best manners. No matter how funny you think the joke is do not uses words like ‘bomb' or ‘hijack.' TSA (Transportation Security Administration) personnel have absolutely no sense of humor."
Nor do pilots, he added. "Do not poke your head in the cockpit, and ask the pilot whether he has been drinking or if he got enough sleep." He faced that situation three times. In his long career.
His answer? "I can have you removed from this plane, or I can leave the cockpit to undergo alcohol and drug testing, which will take three or four hours."
Doug said in one of the three instances he had authorities take the passenger off the plane; in the other two, who were clearly kidding around, he delivered a stern warning. He said he knows pilots who left the cockpit.
These jocular or not-so-jocular queries come "usually after something's been in the news."
"TSA people are just as sensitive," Doug said, "so please no remarks like ‘I left my bomb home today.' These people have extraordinary powers. However, if you think someone is out of line, politely ask for a supervisor."
Gala noted that you can be hit with an $11,000 fine. That would pay for a lot of skiing or riding.
Gala said the best place to avoid problems is at home, while you're packing for that much anticipated snow holiday. Although every would-be airline passenger should know the rule, she repeated it, 3-1-1: three ounce containers of liquids or gels, in one clear zip-loc bag, and one bag per person.
Gala advised passengers to check the TSA.gov Web site for the most up-to-date information. There are two approved locks, she said, Safe Skies Luggage Locks which are blue, and Travel Sentry Locks which are black.
"Have your government issued ID and your boarding pass in your hand before you reach the security line. Have everything out of your pockets. A wallet in a man's back pocket looks like explosive material."
Women should wear no jewelry, even watches. Put them all in a clear bag, and put them on after security. Women should wear bras without stays or underwire.
Gala said, "Body piercings will set off the alarm. They may ask you to take them out."
Gala recommended using three of the plastic bins on the belt: the first one should hold your jacket, sweater, belt, and shoes, so you get them first and can start putting them back on. Things from your pockets go in the next, your laptop in the third.
There are TSA-approved bags for laptops, she noted. "We use Solo Bags, which we bought at Best Buy. We're not advertising them. They're just the ones we use."
Doug said approved laptop bags have a red C-through tag, and separate the computer from the cord.
Doug also said to put the bins on the belt vertically, instead of horizontally. That way screeners can see all the contents at once, rather than stopping and starting. This may save only five or 10 seconds, but that adds up when 100,000 people are going through security.
"No snow globes," Doug said. Put them in your checked luggage. The Reitzes have a list of problem items on their Web site.