The results of a recent U.S. Travel Association survey show that the frustration of airline travelers is at an all-time high.
To help lessen the pain if you're one of the 2,000,000 Americans who take to the air on a daily basis, America Now hooked up with the TSA for an insider's view on how you can save time, reduce stress, and maximize your chance of arriving at your destination with all your belongings.
For air travelers trying to get from point A to point B, the airport is a place you'd like to get in and out of with a minimum amount of hassle and headache. And you certainly don't want to get ripped off, or lose any of your stuff.
Transportation Safety Administration Spokesman Nico Melendez has some tips on getting you and all your gear to your final destination.
"The first thing that passengers can do, before you even leave for the airport, is to make the determination, is what you're packing something that you absolutely have to have? Can you take that inexpensive watch or do you need your Rolex? Do you need that set of diamond earrings or can you go with something less expensive? Because those are all things that could be stolen," says Melendez.
"What passengers need to remember when they pack their bags and check their bags, is that after TSA inspects them, they are going to be handled by at least a dozen other people outside of the view of the passenger. So the first thing you should do is lock it with a TSA-approved lock. But most importantly, don't put valuables in your checked bags. If you're going to put them in your checked bags, you might as well leave them on your seat in the airport. It's an open invitation for a thief," says Melendez.
Where you should keep your valuable items is in your carry-on bag. But that means it must pass through the screening process. Melendez has a number of tips for getting through security as quickly and efficiently as possible.
"When I come to the security checkpoint, typically what I do is I'll take my shoes off, I'll throw them in the first bin," says Melendez. "So the shoes are the first thing to come out of the X-ray so when everything else is being looked at I can put my shoes on while it's coming through. Then I'll open my briefcase, I have a zip area of my briefcase. I'll take my phone. Stick it in, in the zipped area. Then if you have a money clip, a lot of people travel with a lot of cash, take your money, put it in the zipped area as well. While your bag is open you might find prohibited items that you're not allowed to bring to the security check point. So take it out, put it in the trash can, close up your bag, take off your outer coat, throw it on top of your shoes, send it into the X-ray machine. You should be in and out within two minutes."
Far too many travelers are careless or distracted when going through security. The result is a staggering number of items lost at airports every day.
Melendez says, "Some of our larger airports - LAX, JFK, Miami - it's not uncommon to come up with 300 computers in a six month period. People just leave their laptops at the security checkpoint. Car keys. We have thousands and thousands of car keys. The number of ID's that people lose at the checkpoint is unbelievable. It's in the thousands when you go across the country. With two million people traveling every day, there's got to be at least one in every airport everyday. Cell phones, we had somebody leave their false teeth at our security check point because they forgot to pick it up. Strollers, wheel chairs . . . you name it, people have left it at our checkpoint."
If you believe you've lost an item, you should check with the airport and airline, as well as with the TSA.
"The TSA maintains a lost and found database at all of our airports," says Melendez. "The information is readily available on our web site. People lose stuff all the time. So passengers, they shouldn't be embarrassed, they should contact us, let us know they lost something, and if we can help them, we'll find them."
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