“Airport security.” The phrase is a punch line all by itself. But the new rules governing passenger identification on domestic flights in 2016 are no joke. Here, some tips for making sure your ID is up to the new standards, your bag is packed in the most security-friendly way possible, and your next trip through the those airport portals is a (relative) breeze.
YOU MAY NEED A NEW ID
Whoa. Did you know your driver’s license may not be sufficient identification for domestic flights (that’s right, flights within the U.S.) in 2016? Drivers in Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York (and possibly other states) may need to get U.S. passports (or passport cards) because their states are not yet in compliance with the REAL ID requirements being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security. The REAL ID Act established minimum standards for state driver’s licenses and IDs, including the use of facial recognition technology and proper labeling of the ID. There’s still time for states to get compliant, but if you have any doubt, we heartily recommend that you apply for a U.S. passportright away: It’s the most reliable form of ID here in the U.S. and around the world, and will, of course, allow you to visit all the overseas destinations Budget Travel editors want you to see.
YOU CAN PACK SMARTER
Uh-oh. The X-ray belt just stopped and a TSA agent is carefully looking at your bag. The line behind you stops moving. Feet begin to tap. Heavy sighs. To avoid that scenario once and for all, the TSA recommends the following packing tips:
Pack clothing on the bottom and small electronic items, toiletries, and accessories that could trigger a search on the top. And neatness counts. A cluttered bag screams “Search me!”
Remove large electronic items, laptops, and anything else that might look unusual from your bag and let the officers see it before it goes on the X-ray belt.
Review the 3-1-1 liquid policy and always remove your 3-1-1 baggie from your carry-on before it goes through the X-ray machine.
Ok, duh, but remember… Guns, toy and replica guns, and ammo will really mess with your chances of making your flight.
YOU CAN GET THROUGH SECURITY FASTER
TSA Pre-Check is an expedited airport security screening program allowing passengers who are considered low-risk to pass through security more easily. Currently offered by a dozen airlines (including Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, US Airways, United, and Virgin), Pre-Check requires an application process you can initiate here. When you’re approved, you’ll receive a “known traveler number” that you can use when you make flight reservations; a Pre-Check indicator gets printed on your boarding pass, and you’ll have access to those speedy Pre-Check lanes.