In this era of heightened concern about security, air travelers can expect to spend even more time at the airport -- possibly as soon as the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, always the busiest times of the year.
"With the added security checks, you're going to have longer lines," says Chris Marquet of "Airport & Airline Watch," a new bulletin that covers air-travel safety.
Methods of implementing the Clinton administration's plan to match every checked bag with every passenger on every flight are in the testing stage. "Once the process settles down," says Marquet, "you can expect a waiting time of up to one and a half hours on domestic flights."
Whether or not these procedures are in place within the next month or so, extra precautions are already being taken. Here are a few suggestions for making it through the airport and onto your flight as smoothly as possible.
• Don't pay for a one-way ticket with cash, unless you wish to match the profile of a terrorist or a drug courier.
• Carry a photo I.D., and do not travel under another person's name -- a favorite ploy of people flying on someone else's frequent-flier miles. "Don't even think about it," cautions Marquet.
• You're likely to be asked more -- and more penetrating -- questions at check-in. Provide straight answers, and look the agent right in the eye.
• Pack only carry-on luggage when possible, taking care not to exceed limits on size (bags must fit under your seat) or number (usually two).
• Security screeners will be hand-searching more carry-ons. If you can avoid it, don't pack electronic gear in your hand luggage. You'll likely be asked to pull it out and turn it on -- especially equipment with lots of wires and batteries. Think twice about carrying that hair dryer.
• Don't dawdle "landside" in the main terminal area, where, often, many of the shops and restaurants are located. Head for the security checkpoint and go "airside," straight to your gate. Otherwise you could be stuck at the end of a slow-moving line at security while your plane pushes back from the gate.
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