By No Vacation Required, on January 18, 2014

Get through airport security faster

Here are three tips for being one of those savvy travelers who breezes through airport security as quickly as possible.

Plan ahead 

Before getting into the line at a security checkpoint, there are several things you can do to expedite your experience.

  • Pack in a TSA-friendly way. This means: follow the rules for liquids, do not bring wrapped items, and leave out prohibited items (which includes certain scissors and razor blades).
  • Make smart decisions in terms of shoes (are they easy to slip off?), jackets (do you really need the parka?), baggage locks (are they TSA-friendly?).
  • Check bags that need to be checked. Failing to do so violates the rules and is unfair to other passengers. Plus, when you check your bag(s), you’re able to pack bulky items that would otherwise potentially slow down the security checkpoint process.
  • Ask a TSA agent which checkpoint has the shortest lines. When we can’t use TSA Pre-Check (see below), we’ll always confer with an agent to determine which checkpoint has the fewest travelers. Also, does your airport have a special line for families or premium travelers?

Be strategic in line

When you’re ready to line up for security screening, there are several things you can do to refrain from being that person that a stream of jittery, anxious travelers is rolling their eyes at.

  • Have your identification and boarding pass out and ready. No fumbling.
  • Take one last gulp of your water/coffee and discard it.
  • Empty your pockets, slip off your shoes, and remove any headwear/piercings that might be problematic. Also, this is the time to begin preparing your children and pets; remove animals from carrying cases and collapse all strollers.
  • Place all of your items in the appropriate number of bins on the belt. Don’t forget belts and cell phones. Be mindful of the space you are occupying. Have you moved up as far as you can or are you delaying the process by stalling at the first part of the belt?

Check into TSA Pre-Check 

This program allows travelers to go through an expedited screening process when passing through select airports. The initiative, aimed at channeling the majority of agents’ time towards those who pose more of a risk to transportation, fast-tracks qualified passengers through a less restrictive screening process. Eligible participants use dedicated TSA Pre-Check lanes, which do not require travelers to remove shoes, laptops, lightweight jackets, or belts.

Viewfinder Tip: Check to see if you are TSA Pre-Check eligible. It's a significant timesaver.

Currently, select airlines allow eligible travelers to participate. We are TSA Pre-Check approved, and can tell you that it’s worth your time to check with your airline. Not eligible through your airline of choice? TSA has announced plans to implement a TSA Pre-Check application process. This TSA Pre-Check process will be fee-based and allow qualified citizens and residents the opportunity to apply for the expedited screening program.

Also, members of other CBP Trusted Traveler programs, including Global Entry, qualify for TSA Pre-Check. (Check the TSA website for complete details and current guidelines.)

What are your tips for getting through airport security faster?