Guidance on How to Prepare Yourself for the Unexpected When Traveling by Air

Welcome Friends!
Tim Wrigley, Client Services Manager of Omega, writes about being caught in a 4000 person TSA re- screening from San Diego last week. I like this ‘sensible’ advice from Tim who has been in the travel business for over 30 years.

Gloria Bohan, President


My ABC’s on what to do when a TSA officer asks to deplane and exit the terminal immediately.

On August 18 San Diego International Airport (SAN) was shut down for over three hours as a man ran away from TSA Security when requested to have his carry-on luggage screened a second time.

The incident resulted in a full halt of airport operations including a ground-stop, incoming aircraft diverted, and every single individual was asked to vacate the terminal area immediately beyond the TSA security checkpoints.

This meant that 4000+ passengers had to be re-screened and pass through the security again in order to travel. I was one of them.

While I am no ‘road warrior’ I have been travelling for over 30 years. I have been lucky in that I have been rarely impacted or displaced by disruptive events. The reason for that is I prepare mentally as well as take action ahead of every single flight I take.

So there I was on August 18, ready to put my preparedness to test:
I call it my ABC’s when traveling: Always be nice. Be Prepared. Care.
That’s it. Nothing scientific. No research needed.

(As you read this bear in mind local SD news reported an estimated 5000-7000 people were impacted that day. 5,000-7,000 of agitated & confused individuals.)

A. Always be nice. Always.

‘Road House’ with the late Patrick Swayze is a popular movie from 1989. He plays a bouncer and his advice to his fellow bouncers was “Be Nice”. Even in the face of adversity or threatening/disorderly individual. Relax and be nice.

Imagine my situation if just one of those thousands waiting at SAN for further instructions was not nice. Or a more common/less severe scenario interacting with an airline ticket gate agent or flight attendant. Will you get farther being nice & demonstrating some empathy or by speaking with agitation & anger in your voice with an individual that is trying to help you not themselves?

Be nice. Cooperate. It goes long way to helping everyone, not just you, and not just the strangers you come in direct contact.

B. Be Prepared

Also from ‘Road House’ coincidentally: “Expect the unexpected”
A list of things I bring on each flight regardless of duration or destination
• Large style empty water bottle to be filled after TSA screening
 Key note here is this water is meant to be your emergency water. Sip it if you must to stay hydrated but drink the water they give you onboard instead.
Do not finish the water you bring on until you have exited the plane

• 3 or 4 of your favorite candy, granola or power bars
 Easily stored in your brief case or carry-on bag
 But again, not to be eaten as a snack during the flight. These are to be saved for when you are stuck in an area for a while without access to purchase food

• Wear slip-on, no lace sneakers or comfortable shoes

• Light style sweatshirt or sweater that can be stored in your carry-on bags

• Mobile phone charger with cord

• Do this for each family member travelling with you

Remember, there’s never any guarantee you will wind up where you going as it appears on your airline ticket nor at the time (or day) that it is says you will.

Surprise is a lack of preparation

C. Care

‘Take care’ is perhaps one of the more mindless responses to someone that you will not see for a while but also perhaps one of the more important pieces of advice.

Care for yourself yes, but in heightened and tense situations such as being stuck at an airport
(without information when it will end) with thousands of strangers for extended period of time > caring < becomes even more paramount.

Caring is contagious and will prove helpful to others who are trying to help you. Or with strangers who are suddenly inside your “personal space”.

Especially if you are not hurt yourself, staying present within your mind (not panicking), caring about individuals and the situation that is unfolding will go a long way to getting you back home or onto your destination… safely. Which is only the true, most important objective of traveling by air when it comes down it.

Preparing for a flight (any flight) is simple enough.
Preparing for an event, any event, that may not happen is not. It takes practice and most of that practice is mental.

Travel smart, travel safe, and do travel.

Tim Wrigley
Client Services Manager
Omega World Travel