Extension Agent: Airport Security: What seniors need to know before they go
Millions of people pass through the nation's airports every day. However, with changes in airport security procedures, there is often a lot of fear and confusion about the do's and don'ts of air travel. The following information represents some of the suggestions offered by the Transportation Security Administration.
First and foremost, don't be frightened - the security personnel at the airport are there to help you. You can do some things before you even leave your home to help ease the security screening procedure. When selecting your clothing, be sure that it does not have metal items, including underwire bras, belts and belt buckles, which may set off the metal detector.
Also, avoid jewelry made of metal or limit the amount you wear. Your footwear may also cause problems if your shoes contain metal arch supports. Though the Transportation Security Administration does not require you to remove your shoes if you have a medical condition, you may be subject to additional screening if you do not remove your shoes.
Other things you can do before you leave your home include:
Leave your cigarette lighters, as they are no longer allowed in airports. Your lighter will be confiscated and not returned if you try to carry it through a security checkpoint. You may carry matches in your carry-on or your checked baggage.
Do not pack wrapped packages in your baggage. Screeners may unwrap those packages for security reasons.
Do not lock your baggage. Security personnel may cut the lock off your bag to gain access for security reasons. Transportation Security Administration-approved locks may be ordered from travelsentry.org or safeskieslocks.com. These are locks that may be opened by airport security personnel.
Remember to label all baggage with your contact information, including your carry-on bag.
You are limited to one carry-on bag and one personal item, such as a purse or briefcase, on board the plane. Remember to put keys, cellphones, excess jewelry and other metal or metal containing items in your carry-on bag.
Other medical conditions and equipment may be of concern, including:
Supplemental oxygen canisters will be permitted through the checkpoint once they have been screened. However, you should inform your airline of your oxygen at the time of your reservation. Some airlines prohibit personal oxygen on board their planes.
Diabetics are allowed to carry any and all supplies necessary for their care, including syringes when accompanied by insulin. You should notify the security personnel that you are a diabetic and are carrying your supplies with you.
If you wear a prosthetic device, such as an artificial limb, you will not be required to remove said device, but security personnel will need to see and touch it as part of the screening process. You will also be allowed to carry any and all equipment needed in support of your prosthesis.
Walkers, crutches and canes that can fit through the X-ray machine will be required to undergo screening.
Above all, remember to stay cool, calm and collected. You will eventually make it through the security checkpoint and be on your way. The airport security personnel are simply trying to make certain that you and all the other air travelers are safe.
For more information, contact the Transportation Security Administration at tsa.gov. Click on the "Travelers and Consumers" link at the top left of the page. Educational programs of Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age or national origin.
Erika Bochat is a Victoria County extension agent - family and consumer sciences.