March 14th, 2014
How to Fly Through the Airport Security Line
Get through airport security as quickly as possible by using checkpoint-friendly laptop bags, understanding the carry-on rules, and joining TSA PreCheck.
Getting stuck in an endless airport security line may feel like a frustrating situation. While travelers are generally at the mercy of the process, there are ways to speed things up a little, such as packing appropriately, using checkpoint-friendly laptop bags, and joining the TSA’s PreCheck program. Use these tips to speed your way through security.
#1. Dress and pack appropriately
At the security line, you’ll need to take off your shoes and coat and remove items from your pockets before passing through the metal detector or imaging technology device. It’s always smart when traveling to wear comfortable, easy-to-remove shoes that can work in either dressy or dress-down situations. Limit how much jewelry you wear on the plane, as that can set off security sensors and cause a need for additional inspection. And if you’re carrying gifts, definitely don’t wrap them ahead of time: If security needs to know what’s inside, they’re going to unwrap them anyway, which will only prolong your security line experience and force you to rewrap later. When it comes to clothing, wear layers so you can stay warm if the plane cabin is chilly. When packing your carry on, take fewer items than you think you may need. Most airlines restrict carry-on bags to a maximum size of 45 inches when adding length + width + height. Save space in your bags by using packing folders and Packing Cubes.
#2 Prepare for the security line
Frequent travelers know the drill by now. When approaching the x-ray scanners, remove your 3-1-1 bag containing liquids, cosmetics and gels from your luggage. Traditionally, laptops must also be removed, but those looking to skip a step in the process can carry a checkpoint-friendly laptop bag, which earns you the right to keep your laptop in its bag. Another option: Travel with a Kindle or smaller portable tablet instead of a laptop, and you won’t be required to remove it from your bag at all.
#3 Try TSA PreCheck
The most surefire way to fly through the airport security line is to become a member of TSA PreCheck, the program that allows approved travelers to leave on their shoes and jackets and to keep laptops and plastic bags of liquids in their bags, greatly expediting the screening process. You can sign up for the TSA PreCheck program here. There’s a non-refundable $85 fee to apply. Another time-saving option worth considering for frequent international travelers is Global Entry, which allows U.S. citizens returning to the country to skip customs lines. Do you have a surefire way of bypassing hassles at airport security? A trick for choosing the shortest security line? Be sure to tell us on Facebook or in the comments below! Scott Shetler is a freelance journalist and frequent traveler who enjoys national parks, urban nightlife, and everything in between. He blogs about his adventures at http://quirkytravelguy.com.
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