I’m a pretty patient person, but my tolerance is tested in a line at the Motor Vehicle Department, the grocery store (why do they have 15 registers and only open two when there are 75 people in line!) and airport security.
There’s not much you can do to speed through Motor Vehicles or the line at the grocery store but I do have 6 travel tips to help you fly through airport security.
Study and Know Airport Rules
It’s no secret that, since 9/11, TSA has changed what we can carry on board. It is imperative that each passenger follows what is known as the 3-1-1 rule: Gels and Liquids can only be carried on board if they are in 3.4 ounce or less containers and those containers must be in a single, one quart sized zip top bag. Correctly preparing your carry on bags before you get to the airport can save so much time.
What seems to confuse most people is the gel part. Here is a good rule to follow: If you can squeeze the contents of any food, cosmetic, or lotions through an icing tube then don’t bring it on board. Here’s the TSA’s list of items that are not checkpoint approved: Traveling with Food or Gifts.
Before getting in line pull out your boarding pass and ID or Passport so you can have it ready for the security agent. Since you have to take out your laptop, iPad, phone, and bag of liquids, have it all together in a backpack. Or purchase a checkpoint friendly bag. They are worth their weight in gold!
You would think that travelers would be used to this by now but, at every airport security line I’ve ever been in, there’s THAT person who waits until they’re at the X-ray belt then struggles getting their laptop and liquids out.
Pay Attention to the Security Agent
Just because the line is short does not mean that your wait will be short. Rather than bolting toward the line with the least people, keep an eye out for the line moving the fastest. Watch the agents, the ones who are hurrying passengers through with efficiency have the lines you want to be in.
Empty Your Pockets
Nothing adds to the frustration of security lines than going through the metal detector and having it scream out a warning; that always invites extra screening. Empty your pockets before you get to security, or better yet, wear something comfortable with no pockets like linen or sweat pants. Put change, keys, and key chains in your backpack front pocket for easy access. Don’t wear jewelry, piercings, or a belt. And wear shoes that can be easily removed (no laces) especially in the US were it is required to take off all footwear.
If you need someone to sit on your bag while you zip it up you’ve probably over packed. If yours happen to be the one the TSA agent decides to pull out of the line to check the contents, time will be wasted while you cram all your belongings back in and struggle to re-zip it. You’ll also be the target of all those angry passengers you’re holding up!
If your bag is organized correctly it will go through an X-ray scanner more smoothly. If you have jumbled wires and balled up clothes you’re more likely to get targeted for extra screening. So pack your bag in neat layers. If you must carry an extra outfit, books, shoes, and documents don’t stack the items, layer them. Remember to put your footwear on top of everything else as recommended by TSA.
Join a Frequent Flyer Program
It might not be fair but those who are part of a frequent flyer program with elite status often enjoy faster security lines. Research which airlines offer their elite customers those perks and start using them to your advantage. All’s fair in love and security line hacks!!
Do you have any tips for beating airport security lines? Share your experiences with us.