airport screeningThis article is intended to be a virtual guide through the security screening procedures at airports in theUnited States of America. Similar security screening procedures are employed all over the world andthis article will apply for a lot of these non US countries too.

If you have never been to a US airport or have simply forgotten what to expect, this article will guideyou through the process from start to finish. If you are prepared, you should be able to minimize any delays you might otherwise encounter.

When you first arrive at the airport, you will have to check-in. At this point, your hold bags will betaken from you. You will be asked if you packed the bag yourself, whether anyone could have putanything into your bag without you realizing and whether anyone has given you something to carryin the bag for them. Make sure that you have packed the bag yourself, that you do not leave your bagunattended and that you are not carrying something for anyone else so that you can truthfully answerthese questions without encountering problems. Once you have checked-in, it is time to go 'air-side'. This means moving from the unsecured, publicaccess part of the airport to the security screened side of the airport.

To do this, you will need to undergo the airport screening process. Officers from the TransportationSecurity Administration will operate the security checkpoints that you need to clear. The aim of thecheckpoints is to ensure that no terrorist can carry onboard any item that could be used to destroyor hijack the airplane. Items that fall into this category are referred to as 'prohibited items'. To passthrough these checks you will need to have all your hand baggage undergo x-ray examination and yourbody searched for metallic objects by a metal detector.

Jackets and shoes have to be removed and placed through the x-ray machine along with your handluggage. Disposable plastic booties will be provided if you want them while you walk through themetal detector to pick up your bag on the other side of the machine.

Taking the following steps well make the airport screening process as smooth as possible:

Dress code - You can wear whatever you like but remember: ANY metal objects will set off the metaldetector and result in delay. Avoid large metal belt buckles, heavy jewelry (including body piercings),keys, loose change and electronic equipment such as phones and MP3 players.

If you do set off the metal detector, you may be asked to remove the causative item and re-step throughthe detector. Alternatively, you may be moved to the pat down area where an officer of the same sex asyou will examine you for hidden objects.Documentation - Make sure you carry your passport and boarding card on your person at all timesduring the airport screening process. If you are not in possession of the correct documents this canresult in additional security measures being implemented, and lead to a delay in clearing the securitycheckpoint.

Liquid - Carry the minimum amount of liquids possible. Any liquids must be presented in a clearplastic zip lock bag to security officers. The containers must not have a capacity exceeding 3oz each.The only exceptions to this rule are for baby formula, milk and prescription medications.

If you follow all these recommendations, your experience with airport security will be brief anduneventful. Remember to keep things simple. Carry as little as necessary and you should clear security without any trouble.