The holidays are the time of year when infrequent (or first time) fliers fill the nation's airports. With that thought in mind the we offer the following tips for infrequent fliers -
Use an airline app. Nearly all airlines have free smart phone apps that let customers make and change reservations. The apps also offer real-time flight updates and downloadable boarding passes. Using an airline app can save lots of time at the airport.
Get to the airport early - at least an hour-and-a-half before your flight is scheduled to leave. That's generally plenty of time to get checked in, through security, and to the gate. You must be checked in to your flight no later than 30 minutes before departure.
Don't over-pack. Take only what you absolutely need -- an overstuffed bag can slow down the security screening process. Carry-on items can be no bigger than 9" X 14" X 22" or a total of 45 linear inches.
Before you get to the security screening line make sure you have a government issued photo ID if you're 18 or older. Make sure the name on your boarding pass matches the name on your photo ID.
Don't wrap presents. Security screeners may unwrap them for inspection.
Speaking of security screening ...
This holiday season sees a change in passenger security screening. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now using millimeter wave scanners at the Springfield airport to screen passengers before they board the plane.
TSA says millimeter wave scanning reduces the need for physical pat downs and results in a smoother flow of passengers through the security checkpoint.
A millimeter wave scanner is a large booth with glass walls. Passengers step inside and hold their arms over their heads for a few seconds. The scanner looks for explosives and weapons without physical contact. It takes about 20 seconds to scan a person, while a pat-down takes two to four minutes.
Older versions of this technology caused privacy concerns because the screening images were anatomically correct. TSA officials say the new machines (image to the right) show generic outlines of people, without the anatomic detail.
If someone doesn't want to be scanned they can opt-out. According to TSA those opting out will be screened using "alternative methods," including a physical pat-down.