Not all locum tenens assignments involve traveling to other parts of the country. But for those physicians, PAs and NPs who love to travel — as well as for those willing to temporarily relocate in order to work a great assignment — the locums lifestyle often involves hitting the road. Or, as is often the case, hitting the airport.
In this Locums Travel Tips series, we'll explore some of the best practices to making your locums-related journeys as efficient and worry-free as possible. Today, let's review some basic tips for dealing with airport security, and preparing for instances of heightened airport security, which can strike at any time.
As we approach the summer season, you can expect busier airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) "has said it is expecting higher volumes of passengers and longer lines at airports this summer," writes Melanie Zanona for The Hill."
With that in mind, we offer the following airport security tips to help you avoid any unforeseen difficulties or delays during your next trip to the airport.
Airport Security Tips for Locum Tenens Travelers
1. Give yourself plenty of time before your flight. Check with your Staff Care Travel Specialist or call the local airport to see how early you should be at the airport. Typically, two hours before a domestic flight is recommended; however, certain busy periods can mean unexpectedly long lines at security. Earlier is always better, and patience is always the recommended (if often difficult) reaction to unexpected delays.
2. The TSA pre-check service is a great way to get through security faster. You're not required to remove your shoes, belt or jacket when passing through security (your laptop can stay in its bag, too).
"Passengers considered low-risk who qualify for the program can receive expedited screening either as a member of the program or another specific trusted traveler group," the TSA Pre✓® website explains. The TSA pre-check program is offered at more than 150 airports nationwide, with most airlines participating. It costs just $85 for five years; you can learn more or sign up here.
3. Remember what you can and can’t have in your carry-on bag and checked bag. You can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels creams and pastes in your carry-on bag. These items are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 oz or smaller. Keeping these items in a separate, in a quart sized bag can make the screening process go much more quickly. View the TSA's official list of prohibited items here.
4. Avoid flying on or around major holidays, if possible. Holiday travel often means heightened security at the airport; and, given that the summer months are the busiest travel months of the year, summer holidays like Independence Day typically go hand in hand with delays and long security lines. If you do need to fly on or around a major holiday, keep an eye on the news for announcements from the Department of Homeland Security to see whether you'll be flying during such a period.
5. Follow your airline and/or airport on social media. Airport security wait lines have gotten somewhat more pronounced over the last years — even to the extent that the airlines themselves are even complaining: "The lines at TSA checkpoints nationwide have become unacceptable," American spokesman Ross Feinstein has stated (via CNBC). "Our customers are waiting in TSA lines greater than one hour."
Keeping tabs on the airline with which you're flying — and the airport you'll be entering and exiting — is easy, and instantaneous, thanks to social media. Airlines are becoming more proactive with alerting flyers when particularly long checkpoint wait times exist, as Alaska Airlines did last month regarding travel in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "Seattlites traveling: TSA security lines are up to one hour," the airline tweeted. "Arrive to airport 2 hours early."
"We are fortunate to have an airport just a mile from the beach and conveniently located near most hotels," Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Brad Dean told NBC News. "Many visitors like to soak-up their vacation and arrive at the airport closer to their flight times, so we work closely with our airport officials and do our best to make our visitors aware of any excessive security delay through our social channels, our call center and our visitor centers."
> Go In-Depth: View the TSA's official Travel Tips here.
Do you have a question about airport security not addressed here? Remember, your Staff Care representative is always standing by to help you work out any travel issues you may have. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Looking to travel for your next locum tenens assignment? We've got great opportunities from coast to coast: You can begin by searching our nationwide database of locum tenens jobs here.