Nov 23, 2010 9:08 PM by Zach Thaxton

Tips for a smooth Thanksgiving "Getaway Day" at the airport

Patience and cooperation.  Those are the two main things you'll need at the nation's airports on Wednesday, typically one of the busiest travel days of the year, according to Randy Petersen, editor of "InsideFlyer" magazine, based in Colorado Springs.

The national debate over enhanced airport security measures has reached a fevered pitch with the arrival of Thanksgiving.  "I've been following travel for 25 years and this TSA topic right now is the hottest topic I've ever seen," said Petersen.  His web site has seen more traffic on its bulletin boards related to this topic than any other in its history, Petersen says.

Passengers can expect long lines at security checkpoints Wednesday.  Petersen says travelers can do themselves a favor by being cooperative with TSA agents and proceeding through checkpoints calmly and confidently.  "I don't think you want to get an attitude when somebody says, 'Hey, step aside, we want to do an enhanced pat-down here.'," Petersen said.  He reminds travelers that less than 5 percent of passengers will be subjected to the thorough pat-downs.  Some web sites and travel experts have advised passengers to avoid wearing bras with underwires or clothes with metal studs which may set off metal detectors, or loose and baggy clothing which may prompt screeners to examine what can't be seen, but Petersen believes that course of action would be minimally effective at best.  "Clothing is not the issue," he says.  "It's what's underneath the clothing that's the issue, so it doesn't really matter what you're wearing."

A loosely-organized group of travelers have assembled online to encourage passengers to "opt out" of going through enhanced X-ray imaging on Wednesday, therefore forcing the necessity of pat-downs, which can take as long as five minutes.  Petersen advises all passengers to arrive at the airport 15 to 30 minutes earlier than they normally would in case a protest slows things down.

Petersen also reminds passengers that TSA agents are in a tough position:  they may not necessarily want to pat down travelers on their breasts, buttocks, inner thighs, and genitals, but they are required to by the Transportation Security Administration.  "They don't set the rules, but they're subject to a lot of verbal abuse, passenger after passenger," Petersen said.  "The abuse they've taken is just overwhelming."


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