Up, Up and Away

Up, Up and Away

Have you flown on an airplane recently? The security lines are longer.  We are interrogated, searched and told to undress. Liquids have to be packed inside our checked in luggage or else they are confiscated. Any toiletries to be carried on the airplane must fit in a four ounce Ziploc bag. We are exhausted before we set foot on a plane.


There are similarities and differences between procedures for domestic and international air travel at US metropolitan airports.  Before we go “Up, Up, and Away”, we will provide you with information about the ticket counter, x-ray area, and the departure gate.


The Ticket Counter is the beginning of our trip where we show our identification and e-ticket. We need to adhere to the individual carrier’s baggage requirements which are up to 50 pounds per bag for domestic and international flights. In addition, the piece or pieces of luggage needs to be unlocked. Quite a number of the domestic airlines charge for luggage placed in the baggage compartment of the plane. In addition, each individual airline has its own rules governing your luggage. Arrival time recommendations vary by airline and day of travel, so check with your carrier.  Remember to give yourself adequate time to check your baggage and move through security.


The X-Ray area is our second information check point where we are either instructed to bring our luggage to an x-ray counter and watch it go through the x-ray process.  Hand luggage and personal items are x-rayed. Most carriers permit one piece of hand luggage and one personal item such as a laptop. Film should go in your carry-on bag. Do you have a gift to carry? Please do not take it wrapped.  If a security officer needs to inspect a package, he or she may have to un-wrap our gift.  If there are any specific questions, we need to contact the individual airline carrier.


We are also asked to remove our shoes, coat, suit jacket and purse and place them in one or more bins provided at the station and then put them through the x-ray machine for inspection.  We need to try to pack our coats and jackets in your checked baggage when possible. We could wear slip-on shoes. This will allow us to take them off and put them back on quickly.  We also need to remove all animals from their carrying cases and send the cases through the X-ray machine. We need to hold our pet in our arms and proceed through the metal detector.Infants and children need to be removed from baby carriers and strollers and take them through the metal detector with you.  Strollers and baby carriers go through the X-ray machine with your bags.  If possible, collapse your stroller before you get to the metal detector.  


We may also be asked to remove jewelry and coins, depending on the sensitivity of the scanning equipment. We are also required to remove our laptop from its case and lay it flat in one of the bins. We will may also have to be searched by a metal detector receive a possible pat down inspection. Items that might set off an alarm on the metal detector include:


Keys, loose change, cell phones, pagers, and personal data assistants (PDAs) or smart phones
Heavy jewelry (including pins, necklaces, bracelets, rings, watches, earrings, body piercings, cuff links, lanyards or bolo ties)
Clothing with metal buttons, snaps or studs
Metal hair barrettes or other hair decoration
Belt buckles
Under-wire bras
Head coverings and religious garments are acceptable during the screening process. You may be directed to additional screening if your headwear or clothing (religious or otherwise) is loose fitting or large enough to hide prohibited items.


There are additional TSA requirements to follow called “3-1-1” requirement which means the following: It stands for 3 ounces or less in a one quart-sized clear zip-lock bag. One bag per passenger is placed in the screening tray. The definition is the following: a 3.4 ounce bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin which limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. Obviously, this is a security measure. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line.


We need to declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. We also need to declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. Heavy travel volumes and the enhanced security process may mean longer lines at security checkpoints.  


Departure Gate identification and boarding passes are still necessary for all flights. A passport for international flights or a drivers’ license for domestic flights is required in addition to your boarding pass.  


Once we arrive to our European destination, passports are rarely checked if we remain in the terminal for other European locales. Planes don’t always drive up to the gate; we may be required to take the assigned bus transportation to our gate. The decision is dependent on available parking spaces at the hanger. Our luggage is checked through to our final destination. If we are taking another flight, we will go through hand luggage security and then show our passport before taking our flight. But, here is the caveat for international travel: Did you know that meals served on all international (non-American airlines) flights are hot and complimentary inclusive of all liquor?  In addition, most international airlines have individual, integrated entertainment seen on a TV monitor.  


I am led to each checkpoint with friendly personnel at the Los Angeles International Airport, but, I noticed that there is no consistency with the rules and regulations for each carrier. In addition, safety enforcements increase or decrease depending on our security status. I have noticed, though that the international airports have less security especially while traveling within the European community (EU).  


Hopefully, travel information will now be more comprehensible. “Up, Up, and Away” should have provided you with information about the ticket counter, x-ray area, and the departure gate.


Roberta Mark Engel

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