It’s a familiar scene: Two lovers cling to each other in a tearful embrace, exchange one last hand-squeeze before one of them picks up a bag and walks… two feet to the airport security line, where they proceed to stand idly for the next 20 minutes while their partner awkwardly looks on and frets about getting home before rush hour.
It’s time to rewrite the script. Skip the drawn-out goodbyes and breeze through security with these 4 time-saving strategies.
- Become a Trusted Traveler
Programs like TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, Nexus, and Sentri allow so-called “low-risk” travelers to move through participating airports more efficiently. As part of the pre-screening process, you’ll cough up personal information (and a fee) in advance of flying. Fees range from $55 to $122.25 for a five-year membership; if you book flights often, the timesavings may be well worth it. Learn more here.
- Get the App
The TSA has created a helpful (and free!) app that features security wait times, a guide to TSA rules, airport status updates, and instant answers to the question: “Can I bring _______?” It’s available on iPhone and Android. Download it here.
- Pack and Prep Right
Practice the 3-1-1 rule for carry-on liquids. Gels, creams, liquids, etc. must be in 3.4-ounces-or-less containers; stored in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic bag; and limited to 1 bag per passenger. Keep the bag near the top of your carry-on so you can easily place it in a screening bin.
- Leave prohibited items and foods at home (or in your checked luggage) to avoid being detained by security.
- Pack large electronics (e.g. laptops and video game consoles) near the top of your bag; you’ll need to remove these for separate X-ray screening (Unless you have a checkpoint-friendly laptop bag).
- Dress right. Wear easy-to-remove shoes (When it comes to airport security, velcro is so in). Avoid wearing a belt, heavy coat, or lots of jewelry, since you’ll need to remove these items for screening.
- When approaching security, have proper identification and your boarding pass in hand.
- Pick the Right Line
Before entering security, take a moment to observe which line is moving fastest, then join in. It’s smart to avoid queuing up behind large families, as it’ll take them a while to move the whole clan through security. Instead, get in line behind people who aren’t carrying much luggage and/or have already removed their shoes and coats; this signals they’re ready to cruise on through.