I use to pride myself on my tried and true shortcuts at airports – particularly at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). I could arrive and breeze through security, families with strollers, and avoid the newcomers to the art of flying.

Lately my shortcuts are getting cut short. Like CLEAR going under within a year of signing up, though there is word of a revival. I won’t hold my breath until it’s back at SFO or ever at LAX!

And I won’t be giving up all my secrets here in the hope that recent changes will be temporary. But finding myself in longer lines and under more scrutiny, I have more time to observe my fellow passengers and myself as we all deal with the inconsistent security process.

Just three weeks ago, flying through LAX, I was detained and “female” searched because I was wearing a ankle length free flowing skirt. Literally two pieces of clothing. A tee and a skirt, standing in my bare feet. This is after I cleared the scanner without a beep. I asked what the problem was. The answer was “loose clothing”. I was detained for 16 minutes while they waited for a female to come pat me down. I was furious. SFO had cleared me in the same skirt without a hitch on the way to Los Angeles. I tried to maintain my composure, but in reality I was seething, snarling and behaving much like my cat when she is backed into a corner.

After these experiences I scheme on my future ensemble to outwit the security who seem determined to make me stand aside for the understaffed “female” search. Last year my issue was several expensive bras I had invested in for support and shape. I set off every gate. Every time. I was so weary at one point I just decided to remove my bra entirely. Trust me, this is not a good look for me.

On this trip to L.A. I found myself behind a young man with a capacity filled KEEN backpack. It projected off his shoulders with a life of it’s own. He breezed by the first two security who review your “carry on”‘ for size. I was reprimanded for not stuffing my purse into my carry on deep enough. I caught up with him and studied his pack. I realized and remarked on the fact he did not remove his computer as we edged closer to the maw of the scanner. His KEEN bag was TSA checkpoint friendly, he just opned the flap and passed it through. I was made much more aware of this important feature because another passenger was panicking about his miss-placed computer.

Maybe, just maybe, this kid discovered a great short cut.

A backpack is not the first bag I would consider. I’m a maturing professional women who has not worn a backpack since the early eighties. Plus I have never thought busty women look good with huge straps embracing their chest. But times are changing and so is bag design.

So I looked into the specs. “The KEEN Airport Way features a special pocket for your laptop so it does not need to be removed to pass through security. Extra-cushy straps to take some of the bite out of long travel days, and a complete organizational pocketing system with padded pockets for your cell phone, camera or MP3 player.”

I think the EXTRA features are: no wheels to catch on the seats, plenty of capacity for an entire purse plus more and easy to toss up into the bulkhead. The straps sit nicely and its lightweight. The black olive/rust combination is nice.

Plus an easy short cut pocket for my steel wire bras. Now I just need a strapping young man to wear it for me.