The end of year holiday period is full of cheer, family and friends and at times, travel.  But ask any experienced traveller and you will hear in short order that it is one of the most stressful periods in the year for air travel.  Long lines, surly airline employees and at times inconsiderate fellow passengers can try your patience.  To help make your journey easier and safer, we’ve compiled a list of a few things you can do to speed your way through the airport and onto your flight.  In addition to these simple tips, we’ve also listed some key security issues that you should be aware of and allot extra time or take preventive measures as needed.

       With regard to getting through the airport quickly and ensuring you make your flight, take note of these tried and true tips:

      -Ensure to comply with the restrictions on liquids/creams in carry-on luggage.  You don’t want to have prohibited items confiscated at the security checkpoint.  Check with the TSA website (www.TSA.gov) for guidance on carry on rules.

        -Wear slip-on shoes to the airport if possible to make removal of shoes easier.  They take less time to put on as well.

     -Avoid carrying your wallet in a rear pocket-airports are still attractive targets for thieves posing as passengers.  That simple bump into another person may have been a deliberate attempt to extract money or other valuables from your pockets or purse.

       -Have your government-issued, photo ID handy at all times.  Don’t fumble in the airport repeatedly by having to retrieve it from your wallet or purse-a thief can key on that and target you while you are distracted and searching for the document.  The best place for a driver’s license or passport when travelling by air is in a front pocket.  A potential thief is unlikely to try and reach into this pocket.

          -Take a list of all medications and their dosage as well as the phone number for your pharmacy and that of the prescribing doctor.  This makes getting an emergency supply easier and quicker.  If you are out of your home country, consult your embassy’s website for guidance on medical care in country.

       -Finally, remember to never make jokes or even off-handed remarks about security issues to airline or airport employees.  Each and every threat or perceived threat must be taken seriously and investigated until authorities are certain that there is no risk.  This could cause you to miss your flight, be banned from flying or worse yet, be taken into custody.  If you are #flyingwhilemuslim you may want to avoid speaking Arabic or reciting prayers during flight or pre-flight.  Arabic speaking males have been removed from flight in the US and UK on many occasions post 09/11 as suspicion of Muslims and those perceived as Muslim has reached fever pitch.  With the election of Donald Trump as president in the US, harassment of Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim has worsened, according to statistics.

 

Threats to Aviation:

            Air travel continues to be an attractive target for terrorists but in recent years, airport facilities or other travel infrastructure have figured more prominently since the actual aircraft have been hardened.  This year’s attacks in major airports such as Istanbul and Brussels have made this abundantly clear.  Passengers and employees were gunned down while waiting in areas accessible to the public, such as the luggage carousel and the check-in line.  Furthermore, the November 2015 attacks in Paris included multiple targets, from bars and restaurants to sports venues and a concert hall. 

            Bottom line is although we cannot take our eyes off aviation and the devastating effects an attack could have on a civilian aircraft, other targets perceived as vulnerable, so called “soft targets”, have been hit with more frequency in the last several years.  We note that an exception to this trend was the apparent successful downing by explosive device of a flight by Russian airline Metrojet at its initial cruising altitude en route from Sharm el Sheik, Egypt to St. Petersburg in Russia.  The presumed attack occurred in October of 2015.  Although Russian and Egyptian authorities play down this prospect in favor of a mid-air structural break-up, forensic examination conducted on the aircraft’s remains shows the telltale signs of pitting on the metal skin of the plane emanating from the interior.

            Bear in mind that aviation is an extremely safe and reliable form of transportation and although it is not without risk, you are much more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident or even on a commuter train.  Don’t drink and drive.  Do not use recreational drugs and drive and ensure your prescription medication will not impair your ability to drive safely.  TSA provides up to date travel safety and security information.  US and foreign government websites also provide information about conditions on the ground in a number of foreign countries.  The US Department of State (www.state.gov) and the British Foreign Office (http://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) have comprehensive travel advisory websites which are updated frequently.

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