In the words of crooner Andy Williams, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Or is it? This past year a plethora of innocent individuals have lost their lives due to the terrorist attacks that have taken place, mainly within the past few months. As the holidays are right around the corner, and the need for travel increases as people are desperately trying to get home to loved ones, travelers deserve to know how airports are helping secure safety during what is being called the Age of Terrorism.

After watching the news on recent travel and terrorism stories, reading articles about travel post-terrorism events and other reliable research, I have compiled fresh information to help future travelers make their traveling time as smooth and uneventful as possible.

  1. If you see something suspicious, say something to the extra law enforcement officers on duty. They are there to provide more security for you.

After the recent terrorist attacks had occurred, airports were put on “high alert,” which caused them to bring in extra law enforcement officers such as SWAT teams, to ensure the highest level of security for travelers. According to The New York Times, airports have made it known that “the increased police presence would be noticeable.” However, if SWAT teams are present in airports, this does not mean that there is something bad going on. Too many times travelers “freak out” when they see SWAT officials in the airport when they are just there to make sure that the highest measures of security are being taken to be sure that all people are safe.

  1. Practice patience because the TSA PreCheck program may not be as quick as normal. Also, standard security lines may be longer than usual.

According to The New York Times, “Changes will be obvious at airports in the United States, including longer waits, travel experts say. Travelers with the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program, which allows frequent travelers to speed up the security screening, have been advised that they may be asked [to] submit to procedures they can usually skip, like taking off their shoes, said Henry Harteveldt, the founder of the Atmosphere Research Group.” With that said, this can result in longer lines for PreCheck as well as longer lines for standard security. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, airports may be cutting back on their PreCheck lanes, which are “reserved for the Transportation Security Administration’s trusted-traveler program” due to “failures by TSA checkers to detect weapons in covert testing by the Department of Homeland Security.” This discovery has TSA looking over its procedures to make sure that this does not occur in the future. Regardless of whether PreCheck will remain or no longer exist, waiting in lines at the airport can be very frustrating. Know that the amount of time it is taking is to make sure that you are at the highest level of safety possible. Also, to be sure that you catch your flight, The New York Times says, “passengers should arrive earlier than usual to contend with long security lines.”

  1. Do not leave your bags unattended

This is announced in airports 24/7, but some passengers do not comply with this simple rule. Many travelers abandon their bags to use the restroom or purchase food when this simple act is what security officials at the airport are looking for. Airport officials are there to not only make sure you get to your destination (and that your bags get there too — that’s a different story!) but they are also on the lookout for the “bad people” who often leave bags unattended. If a bag is unattended and no one claims it, airport officials are required to report it. Then, the canine team comes, and the dogs sniff the bags to check for explosives. With that said, do not leave your bags unattended at the airport but keep them with you at all times. Also, if you see a suspicious bag that has been left unattended report it to an airport official as soon as possible.

  1. Be aware of your surroundings

This may seem self-explanatory, but an extra reminder never hurts. Even if we were not in an Age of Terrorism no matter where you are, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. If there is something suspicious, do not hesitate to tell an officer or worker as soon as possible.

  1. Do not live in fear

According to numerous articles released by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CBS News, terrorism has not negatively affected numbers in regards to holiday travel. People are still going about their regular days and routines because they are aware of the fact that anything could happen at any time. With that said, if you are questioning whether you should travel over the holidays or not, stop questioning and travel!

My hope is that with the help of these five tips your time at the airport will be as smooth and uneventful as possible. Whether your day-to-day schedule involves traveling or it does not, don’t let the Age of Terrorism affect your travel plans or your life. Do not live in fear but enjoy each day to its fullest!

Feature image credit: David Goldman/AP