Last week I headed of to San Francisco to help my wife with a conference that she was managing. I had a few hard learned tips on things that you should never do when traveling by plane.
If you missed the first article check out part 1 by clicking here
I am now back safely and with a few more stories to tell.
Never assume that something is safe to bring on-board. Even security doesn’t know all the time:
Last year I bought my wife her first electronic cigarette while at a trade show in Vegas.
We had a moment of clarity and thought that maybe we should call the airline to see if the ecig would need to be checked or if it could be brought onboard and or used while on the plane.
After an hour on the phone and three transfers, we had 3 different answers.
Yes. No. and something that I can only describe as “an electronic ciggawhat? Uhhh maybe?”
The main question was concerning the lithium batteries and the fact that it had an ignition source.
Fortunately we were able to ask the competent lady at bag check and she assured us that it could be brought onboard as carry on.
She advised against using it on the aircraft as the regulations on ecig’s were still a bit hazy and the vapor emitted from it could spook other passengers into thinking that there was a fire.
(Still working on getting her to quit smoking though)
If you’re traveling as a group, check everyone’s bags.
I am not kidding on this at all; especially if you are traveling with children or the elderly.
My wife’s grandmother was stopped by security on not one but three consecutive flights due to questionable contents.
On her first flight to visit, she decided to bring a clock in her carry-on baggage. Not particularly questionable but get this. Not only was it a clock, but it was a cuckoo clock, a ticking cuckoo clock.
She couldn’t understand why the cuckoo clock was not allowed on the plane. It was a very serious matter, until the hour struck and the clock started chiming. They let her off with a warning and after a thorough inspection that involved a bomb sniffing dog, she was allowed to check the bag and be on her way.
On the next flight she was caught with a purse full of light bulbs. She was moving down to be closer to us and had shipped her lamps ahead via a service. She didn’t want to pay to replace the perfectly good bulbs and didn’t want to risk shipping them. I lost it on this one, I was laughing so hard that I thought security was going to detain me.
I am all for saving money but that method took the cake.
A few weeks ago she decided to fly back to Kentucky and visit family. This time she was stopped for having a 32 ounce bottle of peroxide in her carry-on bags. Now I wasn’t with her on this trip, but my sister in law was. After about 10 minutes of conversation with security, my sister in law said that they had agreed that the peroxide could go on with her as it was considered medical supplies.
As they were packing her bag back up for her she then decided that that was the best moment to let them know that the bottle wasn’t filled with hydrogen peroxide, but rather she had filled it with mouth wash.
I still cannot for the life of me figure out why she would have made that switch in the first place, let alone tell them about it after they agreed to let her take it on board the plane.
I had hoped that this trip to San Francisco would go off without a hitch…it didn’t but at least I have another story to tell.
Expect the unexpected:
With the event over we got everything packed up and ready to leave. Monday afternoon we left the hotel at 3 pm for a 5:30 flight. Everything was going fine, right up until we got through security.
As we passed by the first set of monitors our flight suddenly blinked red, then the “on time” notification changed to “delayed” suddenly our early arrival became twice as long as we expected.
Even with all of the instant access to flight information that we have at our fingertips, a delay can happen right up until the moment you sit down on the plane. You need to expect that you may be late getting home and plan accordingly.
5 hours is not much but I feel for several of the attendees who’s flights home to London were canceled due to snow. I always pack extra clothes in my suitcase and have a large rolling computer bag with a clothing compartment that I use to store extra pairs of underwear, socks, and a light jacket.
You never know when a simple delay will turn into an overnight stay at the airport lobby inn.
Know what you are getting yourself into
The vast majority of airports now are using full body scanners at the security checks. My personal view on them… I could really care less, but anything that gets me through the security line quicker is OK in my book.
With that being said, I understand that many people do have reservations about full body scanners, the radiation they emit and the invasion of privacy. I get it and it is completely your choice, but if you decide not to have the full body scan, you need to realize what you are getting yourself into and make sure you are ready for it.
If you want to bypass the scanner memorize these words and use this exact phrase, ” I opt out”.
While many security officers will respect your right to privacy, others will simply not care and they will try to coerce you into using the scanner so that their precious time is not used in a physical pat down.
“I opt out” is an indisputable phrase and are the only three words you need to protect your rights.
Another thing to realize is that you will not be granted the same expedient entry into the airport as those who follow routine measures. You may have to wait 30 minutes or more for an agent to become available.
You may also be subjected to what is known as an “enhanced pat down”. These are much more rigorous than a routine pat down and the agent may use his or her palms to actually touch your private areas.
I watched as a young woman that stated she would be more comfortable with a pat down, was reduced to tears as the 6’4″ Male TSA agent gave her a very liberal pat down.
Her husband was forced to watch and I am not sure who was more agitated, him or the agent doing the pat down.
Opting out is your right, by all means use it just make sure that you know what to expect.
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Let me know in the comments below.