We don’t know about you, but the one thing that always dampens our wanderlust is the thought of going through the airport security. It makes little difference even if it is one of the world’s best airports, going through security is still going to be a painful experience. More often than not, the swankier an airport, the bigger the ordeal.
We know how it is with travellers who take forever at the security screenings, or people who only start looking for their documents once they get to the front of the line. So read on as we take you through all the things you need to know about how to go through airport security smoothly.
1. Wear Jackets to Store Your Cell Phones, Wallet, Document Holders, Etc
You have to present your travel documents at least three times: before entering the departure area, at immigration and at the gate when you’re about to board.
Having only two hands seem to be a disadvantage when you need to manage your bags and all the documents, and worse if you have to keep an eye on your children. You don’t want to fumble with your bag and purse when it really counts, only to find that you’ve placed your boarding pass at the very bottom of your bag.
- A document holder is a great way to organise your passport, boarding pass and other travel documents in one place. You can take out whatever documents you need and put it back again for the next time when you need it.
- To minimise the chance of misplacing your document holder, look for one with a neck strap. That way, you can still use your hands to push your baby stroller or pick up a phone call without having to worry about your travel documents.
- We love to use our jackets an alternative to (or in combination with) document holders, just make sure that the jackets have multiple pockets. This is a hands-free solution as you wear the jacket instead of carrying it around. You can also stuff smaller items like your wallet and cell phone into your pockets. This is especially great at security checks as you just need to take off your jacket along with its contents, go through security, and pick up your jacket up at the other end to wear it back.
2. Wear an Immigration-Friendly Belt (Yes, There Is Such A Thing)
Every second’s matter at the security checkpoint. You know that you’ll be asked to remove your jacket and perhaps other outer layers, so wear something that’s easy to take off.
- Hate that silly exercise where you have to remove your belt before the security check? The solution comes in belts with non-metallic buckles. There are stylish ones made of materials like plastic and wood, but if you’re boring like us and just want to have something that looks similar to your usual metal buckle then go for carbon fibre belt buckles. These are actually meant to help people who are allergic to metal (it’s a thing!) but can also make every traveller’s life a bit easier.\
- If you don’t want to settle for anything less than metallic, there are also the type of belts that let you remove just the metallic buckles and not the entire thing.
- Alternatively, you can just forgo belts altogether. If you’re not crazy about wearing sweatpants, there are plenty of stylish drawstring pants out there. Many travel-focused brands also offer travel pants which feature stretch waistbands and side waistband adjusters, which look so smart you can pair them with jackets for that semi-formal look.
- Make sure that your shoes are security check-friendly shoes. Your platform shoes might look innocent from the outside, but they might have metallic elements in their buckles, toes, shanks and arches. Instead, choose flats or loafers which can be slipped on and off easily. Just don’t wear your flip-flops, as certain airports and or airlines ban them (you don’t want to catch Athlete’s foot, do you?). If you’re wearing boots, don’t tie the laces too tightly.
- In general, small amounts of metal in earrings and rings won’t set off the alarms, especially when they are made of fine gold and platinum. Custom jewellery made of magnetic metals, on the other hand, might get detected. Putting your jewellery on the conveyor belt could risk them falling off so try to avoid this. Limit jewellery to small earrings, rings and watches so if you are asked to take them off it wouldn’t create that big of a drama.
- Ladies, did you know that your underwire bra is more likely to set off alarms than your jewellery? If you really need the support, go for a pair of sports bra instead.
- We get it, you’re the lead singer of a famous death metal band. But it’s better to keep any clothing with huge metal studs, buttons and snaps in your checked-in baggage.
3. Avoid Queueing Behind Tour Groups and Families
Don’t be that person who holds everyone up because you didn’t pack properly. Don’t wait until you get to the front of the line to get organised!
- Follow the rules when it comes to all liquid and gel items and makes sure that they fit into a single, one-quart zip-closure clear plastic bag. Place your plastic bag on top so it’s easy to show the security officers when you’re required to.
- Remember that each electronic item you carry will need to be taken out. Check them in if you’re not going to use them onboard.
- Need to use your laptop onboard? Consider carrying your laptop in a special laptop case. Alternatively, laptop sleeves are great because they can be placed in whatever bag you have and slide in and out easily.
- Avoid lines with big tour groups, families with children and the elderly. Not because we don’t love them, but because they (understandably) have to take their time to get all their belongings screened.
- Arrive early, you’ll never know what’s going to happen. For domestic flights, allow two hours before the scheduled time of departure while international flights, three hours.
4. Just Bring a Digital Copy of Your Boarding Pass, Wherever Allowed
New technologies and innovations make it possible for a faster, more seamless travel experience. So do yourself a favour and make full use of them!
- Make use of the web or mobile check-ins as earliest as possible. Airlines today feature online check-ins as early as 14 days before departure, useful especially for passengers without checked baggage who can walk straight to the gate.
- Certain airlines and airports allow you to carry just the digital copy of your boarding pass. Since most of us can’t part with our cell phones and gadgets, this is a great alternative to a paper copy. Just make sure that your mobile device is fully charged!
- Make sure that your checked baggage doesn’t exceed your allowance limit. Always pre-book your checked-in baggage which is much cheaper than excess fees.
- Whenever the service is available, always choose self-bag drop to avoid the lines at the baggage drop-off counters.
If you’re travelling with AirAsia, you can even make use of F.A.C.E.S. (Fast Airport Clearance Experience System), a facial recognition boarding system which makes clearing the security a breeze.
All you need to do is to enrol for F.A.C.E.S. with your Malaysian IC or passport at the enrolment kiosk, proceed with your check-in and baggage drop, clear security and immigration as per usual, and then walk up to the auto boarding gate for facial recognition and board flight. Easy peasy!
SEE ALSO: Last Minute Checklist Before You Fly
5. Just Smile! With F.A.C.E.S Technology, That Is
Going through security screening can really bring you down, but only when you let it get to you. Handle the situation by being well-prepared and be sure to be polite with all the officers that you meet. After all, they are only doing their job. This might seem trivial, but a positive attitude will make a great difference. And with that, may your travels and journeys be a little sweeter and stress-free!
Again, here’s where F.A.C.ES can make your boarding process a little faster! Watch the video below to learn how to do it on your phone and how to use it at selected airports.
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