How to fly
When flying, like everything else we have talked about in this course, it is important to keep security in mind. Despite what you see on the news, air travel is one of the safest modes of transportation but you still need to be prepared. Here are a few of the general preparations we recommend you take:
► Do not wear clothing with American symbols or slogans. Travel in conservative clothing blending into the environment.
► Use standard civilian luggage instead of your old military duffle bags, do not include personal information on luggage tags.
► Place any papers and other official documents in a sealed envelope.
► Know your exact departure time and arrive early enough to ensure that you have enough time to pass through security.
Air Travel Planning:
► Use US flag carriers or international air carriers with a solid safety track record. Last year CNN Business Traveler published an online article called “What are the world’s safest airlines for 2016?” Qantas, an Australian carrier has held the top spot for the last three years, take a look at the article to see the complete list. The airlines were chosen based on safety and operational standards.
► Avoid scheduling air travel through high-risk areas. I was once on a trip in East Africa and I was flying from Kenya to Djibouti, but unknown to me the flight had a stop over in Somalia! You can imagine my surprise!
► If you are in the military, do not use rank or military address on tickets or travel documents. Remember be low key and blend in to your environment.
► Since the attacks on 9/11, there have been many air travel restrictions put in place to ensure your safety. Be aware that there are prohibited items that can not be brought on the plane. Check with the TSA website for the latest list of prohibited items.
► If you are traveling a long distance, wear comfortable clothing and pack a sleep kit. This could include travel pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs.
► Consider your seat selection. Window seat reduces your exposure in a skyjacking but also reduces your mobility. Isle seats allow for greater mobility but could increase your risk of interaction with a hijacker.
► Mid-cabin seats offer more protection since they are farther from hostile action near the cockpit and at the rear of the cabin.
► Seats at an emergency exit may provide an opportunity to escape.
At the Terminal:
► Be vigilant for vehicles left unattended at the curbside check-in areas, individuals that appear nervous, or any activity that is out of place in an airport environment. If you see any of this behavior, report it to airport officials immediately.
► Pass through security without delay since all passengers and baggage are screened at that time. To avoid delays, ensure your travel documents are in order and use online check-in options. Here are a few tips to help speed up the process of passing thru airport security:
► Join TSA Pre-Check. Flyers eligible for the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Pre-Check program may experience faster, smoother screening at select domestic airports. The expedited security isn’t guaranteed, ever. (The TSA likes to keep things more secure by avoiding any sweeping promises of devil-may-care screening.) But for the most part, Pre-Check travelers get to leave their shoes on and their laptops in their bags, bypassing some of the traditional TSA procedures and getting through the system a lot faster.
► Watch the TSA Agent. The shortest line does not always mean the fastest, watch for the line that is moving the fastest. That is the line with the TSA Agent hustling to get passengers thru the line.
► Join a frequent flyer program. Many airlines will offer a better security experience for the customers.
► Get an upgrade. There are usually separate lines for First and Business Class passengers.
► Know the 3-1-1 rule. If you have flown since 9/11, you likely know the TSA fundamentals and have some understanding of the 3-1-1 rule: Liquids and gels must be in containers of 3.4 ounces or less, and these containers must be in a single quart-size zip-top bag.
► Pack well. An organized bag will cause less confusion when going through the X-ray scanner, too. A mess of wires and bundled clothes is more likely to get flagged for extra screening than a bag with folded, neatly stacked items. The TSA recommends that travelers pack items in layers and place “ shoes, boots, sneakers, and other footwear on top of other contents in your luggage.” The agency also advises, “Don’t stack piles of books or documents on top of each other; spread them out within your baggage” to facilitate X-ray scanning.
► Dress for success. First off, empty your pockets (coat and pants). Spare change, keys, and any metal frippery that may be jangling around in your pockets will set off the metal detector and invite extra screening. If you can, don’t wear any body piercings through the metal detector. Jewelry that sets off the alarm is cause for additional screening, in private if necessary. Belts with metal clasps also set off the alarm (and must be taken off at the checkpoint), so wearing an outfit without a belt could make things a little easier.
► Use a tourist passport if you have one with necessary visas and if the country you are visiting allows it.
► Identify objects suitable for cover in the event of attack; pillars, large planters, and solid furniture can provide protection. Other objects such as trashcans, luggage, and counters could be used for concealment.
► Avoid secluded areas that provide concealment for attackers.
► Be extremely careful with personal carry-on luggage. A criminal can plant objects in unguarded luggage. A weapon or drugs can make you the focal point of an incident.
► If you must carry military or governmental documents on your person, select a hiding place onboard the aircraft to "ditch" them in case of a hijacking.
► Observe the baggage claim area from a distance. Retrieve your bags after the crowd clears and go to customs lines at the edge of the crowd. Proceed directly to the arrivals hall and depart the airport as soon as you can. Do not loiter.
► If your aircraft is skyjacked, choose carefully to cooperate or actively resist. In making this decision, try to understand the skyjackers' intent. For example:
► Are pilots left in control of the aircraft? This may indicate a desire to land the plane safely.
► Have passengers or crew been physically abused? This may indicate their mindset.
► Are passengers singled out by nationality or religion? This may indicate something about their goal.
► All skyjackers may not reveal themselves at the same time. A lone skyjacker may draw out security personnel for attack by other skyjackers.
► If you are traveling on multiple passports surrender your tourist passport if asked for identification. Do not offer any information, but confirm your status if directly confronted with the fact. Explain that you always travel on your personal passport and that no deceit was intended.