Set your luggage apart from the pack. “When passengers use ribbons and bows, they can be torn off in the transporting process,” says Chris Gossner, a customer-service supervisor with US Airways for more than 20 years. Your best move: Buy a suitcase in an unusual color, such as bright blue.
Stockpile samples. Freida Burton, a US Airways flight attendant for almost 31 years, carries samples of cosmetics and prescription creams, which she requests from her doctor. Go to walmart.triaddigital.com or freesamplesblog.com for a variety of freebie offers. Or take advantage of Sephora’s and Kiehls’s policies of giving three free samples with any online order.
BYO blanket (and disinfecting wipes, too). “I hate to say it, but tray tables are rarely cleaned, so wipe them off before you use them,” says Sarah Scott, a former US Airways flight attendant. “And steer clear of the blankets and pillows. They’re only washed when they look dirty.”
Pack your electronics in a single layer. “When things are tossed in haphazardly or jumbled together, we spend more time determining what they are [from the X-ray] and have to manually check bags,” says Sterling Payne, a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
Do your own bag check before you leave. Keep from getting stalled in security and losing innocent (but sharp) items you forgot were in your bag―hello, nail scissors! “If you think through the screening process as you’re packing, you’ll be fine,” says Stephanie Carter Naar, a transportation security officer based in Washington, D.C.