GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc
July 24, 2009
Airport security checks can be a hassle, but not if you know what to do. Dan Tardecilla of the Office of Transportation Security says they want passengers to cross the checkpoints easily, onto safe flights. Officers in the country’s 84 airports are trained to screen efficiently. But travelers too must help simplify the process by familiarizing themselves with it. Dan’s tips:
• Know your terminal. NAIA has four. Terminal-1, the old MIA, serves all international airlines, except PAL and Cebu Pacific. Terminal-2, or Centennial, has only PAL, in separate wings for domestic and international flights. Cebu Pacific domestic and international fly out of Terminal-3, the newest, along with PAL Express and Air Philippines. Zest Air and Sea Air operate from the Domestic Terminal.
• Allow enough time before departure for security screening and check-in. For international, two to three hours before departure is best. All airports have two security checkpoints, at the terminal entrance and before the boarding gates. Airline check-in personnel also follow international standards in screening passengers and baggage.
• Have the airline ticket and acceptable ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.) ready before entering the terminal.
• Before using, look inside all pockets and remove items prohibited in air travel (firearms, bladed weapons, etc.). Pack carryon and checked luggage yourself, so you know what’s inside in case of questions.
• Organizing a bag’s contents by layer facilitates visual checks. Screeners take more time checking and clearing cluttered bags. Pack smart; innocuous items can appear as threats in an X-ray image. Load your bags one foot apart on the X-ray conveyor belt.
• Do not wrap gifts; screeners may unwrap them for inspection. If flying to international destinations, follow the rules on duty-free items, like liquor and wine. Shop personnel will assist you on destinations that have restrictions on certain items.
• Security officers are on the lookout for liquid explosives. To avoid delays, pack all liquids in your checked luggage. If you must carry liquids, aerosols, creams or gels, the containers must not exceed 10 ml, packed inside a 20 x 20 cm transparent re-sealable plastic bag. Only one bag per passenger, this must be separately placed in the service tray for X-ray. Declare any exempted liquids (medicines, breast milk, etc.) to the screener.
• Screeners may request you to switch on laptops, digital cameras, and other electronic devices.
• Ask your airline customer service about items disallowed on board aircraft. When in doubt, leave it out. Bringing banned items not only may delay you and other passengers, but also require a police investigation.
• Dress plainly. Screeners need to identify metals detected at checkpoints. If the metal detector alarms as you pass through, you will be required to undergo further screening, by hand wand or frisking.
• Before entering screening area, put loose change, keys, mobile phones, jewelry, and other metal objects inside the pocket of your jacket or carryon (that will pass through X-ray).
• At final checkpoint, travelers are required to remove shoes (aside from metal objects) and place these on the tray for X-ray. Slip-ons are easier to take off and put back on without having to sit down.
• Wearing bullets, dud or live, as amulet or lucky charm is barred.
• Avoid wearing bulky clothes, boots with laces, and other apparel that will make it difficult for the security officer to screen you properly.
• Think before you speak. Belligerent behavior, inappropriate bomb jokes, and threats will not be tolerated. You might miss your flight if taken in for questioning.