As bad as they already are, expect your airport experiences to get even worse -- unless you're one of those rare people who enjoy high blood pressure and long lines.
Beginning New Year's Day, new standardized security measures, sure to frustrate travelers and airport workers alike, take effect.
For starters, all checked baggage will now go through a screening process. It's a massive undertaking that may delay flights until the kinks are worked out. Some of the screening may happen behind the scenes, and as such, security personnel won't hesitate to break the locks of bags that require a hand search. Officials therefore suggest keeping your luggage unlocked. In addition, screening equipment will likely damage undeveloped film, so be sure to keep that in your carry-on luggage.
After checking your bags, you'll have to pass through passenger screening. This is the familiar checkpoint involving an x-ray machine and metal detector. Finally, some travelers may have to go through additional screening at the gate.
According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), several measures can help you get through this rigamarole more quickly. Among them:
Make sure you have no food or beverages in checked bags (they may resemble explosives)
Leave gifts unwrapped
Avoid wearing clothing or jewelry that contain metal items
- Hidden body piercings may result in a pat-down inspection (so load up, if you enjoy that sort of thing!)
Even if you only have a carry-on bag, you'll not be able to proceed directly to the gate, so the most important tip may be to arrive early.
The best place to bone up on the regulations is the TSA website; it's required reading for travelers in the new high-security era. The policies may add another layer of frustration and more pressure to financially strapped airlines, but most Americans seem willing to trade the inconvenience for safer travel. As one passenger told the Associated Press, "I'll make the necessary sacrifices to make it happen."