California, USA – The spring season brings with it a welcoming initiation to travel. Chaldean students excitedly plan for the end of the college winter semester by traveling home or planning a visit to out-of-state relatives. For Gina Abaya, a student at San Diego State it is traveling to see her favorite cousins in Michigan. “I was an only child. My cousin Cynthia and I were best of friends. We were sisters,” Gina says.
While Gina may be looking forward to seeing her favorite cousin she dreads the travel headaches. “Packing is fun. I always pack way too much, but don’t mind. I do mind all the extra travel charges and the security checks that always seem to take so long and seem to put everyone on edge. I love the extra security, but do they really have to make it so stressful,” Gina asks.
Chaldeans preparing to travel will experience no shortage of indignities and none rivals the worry of the security line. Will the fashionista in front of you take twenty minutes to unlace her knee-high boots? Will your bag be the one selected for a dump-it-all-on-the-counter inspection? Did you forget something in your bag they consider dangerous? What are the new restrictions? How long will it take?
Today’s www.CHALDEAN.org article is to help Chaldeans prepare for the travel process to overcome the dramas and cliffhangers and help keep your wits and your schedule. It will help you keep up your odds of zipping through quickly.
KNOW YOUR AIRPORT
For many Chaldeans in America, the Detroit Metro Airport (www.MetroAirpot.com) will serve as their travel point. Visit the airports webpage and learn about their specific rules and tips relating. For example, Detroit’s Metro Airport website offers wonderful information about curbside checking, drop-off points, passenger screening checkpoints, carry-on items, prohibited items, hygiene and medical supplies, and airport etiquette.
KNOW THE SECURITY LINES
When you make your way to the line for security and spot a seemingly endless queue of travelers, don’t just join the masses. Look for another way in. At some airports, they exist. In San Diego, for example, there are a number of lines on the main floor and a few upstairs. They all get you to the same place, yet often the difference in length even between the lines downstairs can be dramatic because, oddly, people seem to gravitate to the line with the most people.
HIT THE BLACK DIAMOND LANE
In the busiest airports around the country, like Los Angeles (and even some of the not-so-busy ones), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has created what it calls black diamond lanes. The idea is to let the experts — those who can recite the TSA procedures in their sleep — stand in one line while the inexperienced fliers wait in another. This way the novices don’t feel the pressure of a bunch of pros on their tails, and the always-in-a-rush experts can cruise through with like-minded travelers. The system has helped speed things up, so take advantage of it. Unfortunately, so far the expert line is unique to the United States.
BAG THE GOLD
Bring a pocket baggie with you, and while waiting in the line place your keys, heavy jewelry, change, or other metal items into the bag. When you make your way to the metal detectors you can simply place your bag into the dish for easy retrieval and exit. Having your items in a bag will also reduce the risk of losing an item or add to the delay of picking out the items in the detector pass dish.
AVOID SMALL CHILDREN
When the black diamond lanes aren’t available, you can still avoid the one line that’s guaranteed to move the slowest: the one with kids. Nothing against children, but we all know that kids come with bags, strollers, tantrums, and a whole lot of gear that slows everyone else down. So steer clear of the family lines.
Many airports have separate lines for airline crews. No problem, right? Wrong. You want to avoid the line beside the crew line because crewmembers are allowed to cut in front of everyone else and will invariably cut in front of you just as you’re getting ready to push your bag on the conveyor belt and head through the metal detector.
THE SECURITY DANCE (STAY CALM OR ELSE!)
Security line rage is likely an underreported phenomenon. So if you suffer from it, take a deep breath and try to keep your temper under control, or you’ll pay dearly. The TSA has Behavior Detection Officers, known as BDOs, stationed at about 160 airports to try to spot people who give very slight behavioral cues that would suggest they’re up to no good. The aim is to catch terrorists. Your agitation may not send a signal to the BDO folks, but it will likely grab someone’s attention. And if you’re rude to the agents, you might find yourself pleading for that dump-the-bag-and-empty-your-pockets search instead of the more thorough inspection.
DON’T BURY THE LIQUIDS
First, know the rules: No container of liquid can be more than 3.4 ounces (100 mls), and all your liquids and gels together must fit in a single, 1 quart-sized, clear zip-top bag. Now, you know you’re going to have to take your plastic bag out, so make sure you keep it in an outside pocket. This holds true for any flight into or out of the U.S., and many countries have adopted this rule for all international flights. For example, liquids may not be a big deal on that flight from Christchurch to Auckland, but when you go from Auckland to Los Angeles or anywhere else outside New Zealand, you’ll need to get that baggie ready to go.
Actually, the laptop doesn’t always have to come out of the bag. The TSA has urged manufacturers to design cases that don’t obstruct the view when they go through the X-ray machine, and here are the styles that it has deemed okay. However, using a TSA-approved bag doesn’t guarantee a screener won’t make you remove your laptop; it just ups the odds.
NAIL CLIPPERS, TOO?
These can stay in your bag, just as your iPod can. But why take chances? Screeners are always looking for anything suspicious, and sharp objects and electronics are likely culprits. So keep them on top or someplace where you can pull them out easily.
Don’t wrap any gifts. Pack some wrapping paper if you are not going to have time to purchase any when you arrive. While waiting to be picked up or for your luggage to arrive, you can wrap your special gift then. Even better, consider gift bags instead of wrapping paper.
BOXES, LUGGAGE, AND SPICE OH MY!
Any luggage, including boxes, that prevent TSA inspectors from looking inside will be broken or torn purposely for inspection. If you are packing the highly sought after Chaldean spices or grape leaves, be sure the bags are properly and professionally labeled. You might want to even consider printing your own labels identifying the spice, quantity, and use.
SLIP-ONS SHOES DO THE TRICK
Perhaps the best rule for Chaldeans is to wear slippers “Na’alli” You know you’re going to have to take your shoes off, so why wear shoes with laces at all? Your fellow business travelers will thank you for wearing them.
MORE INFORMATION: For more details regarding prohibited items and safety tips, visit the Transportation Security Administration website at www.tsa.gov or www.tsatraveltips.us
Airport security lines are an unavoidable part of travel, but if you follow these tips you should sail through with little hassle and be on your way.
If you have a tip you would like to share with the Chaldean community, please e-mail email@example.com.