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Packing smart

March 19, 2006 06:13 PM EST | Travel | Email to Friend

It's one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to you in a security line at the airport: a hand search of your luggage. Security officers may have seen something suspicious on the screening machine, or you may have been chosen for a random search; either way, your personal items are about to be removed from your luggage and displayed for everyone in the immediate vicinity to see. While there's really no way to avoid random luggage searches, there are ways to make your luggage less suspicious and easier for security to check.

1. Use heavy-duty plastic bags to pack personal items such as shampoo, toothpaste and other personals. See-through Baggies help security check your packed items quicker without having to remove everything.

2. Pack small items and plastic Baggies on top of clothes so they can be seen and evaluated quickly.

3. Avoid packing radios, compact disc players, pagers, or laptop computers, especially in carry-on luggage. These often set off screening machines and may cause a hand search of luggage. If you bring electronics with you, keep them separate from your luggage until you pass through security, and be prepared to demonstrate that they work.

4. Pack all medications in their original bottles with prescription labels to help avoid security questions. You should have a letter from your doctor for any large amounts of medications that may raise suspicions.

5. Liquids should be packed in their original bottles (preferably Plastic.) Security may not allow certain liquids aboard if they deem them suspicious.

6. Don't pack sharp objects, such as scissors, knives, and nail files. Airline personnel will confiscate these.

If you are subjected to a hand search of your baggage, don’t panic. Experienced security personnel know what they are looking for and usually make quick work of searches. Don't expect them to carefully repack everything, however. If you have packed correctly and avoided over packing items, a hand search shouldn't disrupt things too much. And don't worry; you won't be the last passenger to have your personal items aired in public.

Laura Quarantiello is the author of "Air-Ways: The Insider's Guide to Air Travel" - your ticket to cheaper, smoother, fewer hassle flights. For more info please visit: http://www.tiare.com/airways.htm

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