The holiday travel season is upon us. Around this time of year, airport security lines can become quite treacherous. You've probably felt the anxiety that comes with waiting in an outrageously long, slow, screening line. There's nothing worse than looking back and forth between the clock and the line while wondering if you'll miss your flight.
The security line doesn't have to be an enemy that stands in the way of you catching your flight. Check out these tips that can help speed up your time in line.
1. Invest in TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry.
The $85 membership for TSA Pre-Check is one of the best travel investments that you can make. TSA Pre-Check is valid for 5 years and gives you access to a dedicated line that's separated from the traveling masses. Taking off your shoes, removing belts, liquids, light jackets, and laptops will be a memory of the past. If you're prone to procrastination, then TSA Pre-Check needs to be in your travel toolkit.
If you often fly internationally, then invest in Global Entry. Global Entry gives you expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. You still get all the benefits as TSA Pre-Check and it only costs $15 more.
2. Dress Smart.
Some clothing items can be more harmful than helpful. I love wearing my comfortable, cargo pants but they aren't very TSA friendly. The multiple pockets and compartments tend to make me prone to receiving additional pat downs. Although there isn't a set way to dress for security, the key is to wear items that you can easily remove and put back on quickly.
Keep in mind that if you don't have TSA-Precheck, you'll have to remove your outerwear and shoes. Be mindful of wearing boots or shoes that are difficult to take off and put back on.
3. Start Removing Items Before You Get to The Conveyor Belt. Every second counts when your waiting in line. I start removing certain items before I take my tray. Before I approach, I make it a point to remove my shoes, laptop, and belt upon placing items inside the tray. It also helps to keep your liquids handy and packed in one separate bag.
After you and your items have made it through the scanner, grab your tray, and regroup away from the conveyor belt. Most post-screening areas have metal tables solely available for this purpose. Many people try to re-pack and put their clothing back on directly in front of the conveyor belt. This holds up other travelers and slows things down.
4. Pick Your Line Carefully. Start scanning ahead for the shortest line before the security agent gives you the green light. Pay special attention to how fast lines are moving and who's in them. If possible, avoid lines where you see many families or those who look terrified of the screening process.
5. Don't Go Through The Scanner With Your Boarding Pass.
This is a one of my biggest airport screening line pet peeves. You do not need to have your boarding pass in hand while you enter the body scanner. This is not only an annoyance to other passengers in line, but to security staff who will sometimes ask you to put it in the tray. Your boarding pass is checked well before you approach the scanner, so there will be no need to have your documents re-checked.
6. Check Those Pockets. I'm sure you've heard the security agent yell this out a million times. Get in the habit of checking those pockets well before you get in line. Don't lose precious time trying to collect and retrieve loose change, receipts, etc.
For all my fellow wig and weave wearers be mindful of your long hair. Trust me, I love wearing my big curly hair. At times, it causes unnecessary headaches when going through the line. I've had plenty of wig/weave pat downs. Keep a hair tie handy and if necessary put your hair up in a ponytail before you go through the scanner.
7. Check The Sizes of Your Toiletries Before You Pack. During a recent trip, I accidentally packed a large tube of toothpaste in my carry on bag. I had to have my entire bag searched while another female agent gave me a full pat down. Talk about embarrassing. I looked like Public Enemy #1 as other travelers walked by me. This minor mistake cost me an extra 20 minutes at the security area. Make sure you're familiar with the 3-11 rule.
8. Know Before You Go. Did you know that you can check the wait time of TSA lines before you arrive? FlightSpeak allows you to check wait times at over 300 airports. You can also view estimated wait times on the TSA's mobile website or app.
Do you have any additional tips to help speed through the airport security line? Drop a line in the comments and let me know!