Tips to Minimize Your Time in Line
You know the feeling – you arrive with plenty of time before your flight and then you see that security line and panic. Where did all these people come from and why is this line moving so slowly? We’ve all been there and I’ve got a few tips to help you get through airport security quickly and move on to the fun part of your trip.
Before You Arrive at the Airport
Check Your Flight
Check your flight status. This may seem like an obvious thing to do but not everyone does it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed out the door for an early flight. I’ve waited to check on my flight until I was en route to the airport and sometimes gotten a surprise. Cancellations and delays can and do happen and it’s best to be prepared. Many airlines offer text alerts for updates so check with yours to see if that’s an option.
If you’re thinking way ahead – check out Global Entry or TSA Precheck. These are great ways to speed up the security process and may be well worth the investment if you travel very often. Also check out the MyTSA App to find out how long the lines are at the airport before you go. This app has FAQ’s about security in the airport you’re using.
Check in Online
Check in online and either print your boarding pass or download it. This will speed things up if you’re carrying on bags. You can just head straight to the security line. I’ve also found that taking a photo of my mobile boarding pass makes it easier to scan when I’m ready to board the plane.
I usually like to look at an airport online when I travel someplace new. Some airports are very large and confusing, especially when traveling internationally. If there’s a language barrier it’s definitely going to require more time to navigate, so it’s helpful if you have an idea of the flow of the airport you’re visiting.
Use a Clear Zipper Bag
Be sure to pack any liquids that you plan to carry on in a clear plastic bag. Be sure to keep this bag somewhere easily accessible. I pack mine in a side pocket of my suitcase to easily reach them for security, and then I open my suitcase after the line and place them inside. My bag includes eyedrops and perfume, just the regular liquids that I carry in my purse.
What to Wear to Get Through Airport Security Quickly
This may not be the most obvious but there are a few tips for clothing to help spend less time in line. First, wear shoes that are quick to put on and off, or have them unlaced when you arrive. Those strappy wrap around sandals that look great in all my photos are a pain to put back on in the security line (I know this from experience). Slip on’s mean less time off your feet.
Wear socks – just take a look around to remind yourself why you don’t want bare feet in the security area. Besides – it’s usually cold on an airplane, and nobody wants to see your bare feet there either.
Take off that long necklace – no need to get a pat down after you’ve already basically undressed. Put any other jewelry in a bag in your purse and put it on after you get through security. Make sure you empty all those pockets too – loose change and all. Put all your pocket items in a designated area in your briefcase or purse to get through security. If you forget to remove a long necklace, turn it to the back. This way security can pat down your back instead of your front!
The Security Line
While you’re standing in line you will likely have a few minutes to prep. Make sure that everything that needs to be scanned is easily accessible – liquids, shoes, the laptop that has to go in it’s own bin. You might consider purchasing a TSA approved laptop bag to speed things up. Unload those pockets into your bag and untie your shoes. Be sure that you have your id and boarding pass ready for security to check, and then once they’ve checked them, put them in a secure place.
Throw Away Your Drink
Don’t wait until you’re at the front of the line to finish that water bottle – you know it can’t go through security, just pitch it.
Hold your bags or backpack in front of you – there’s nothing worse than getting hit by someone’s giant bag or backpack because they didn’t realize how close they are standing. This is a good rule to follow when you’re boarding the plane as well.
Remember that most people tend to head to the right so if you have a choice to go left – do it. But, be sure to look around. It’s easy to spot the frequent flyers vs. the once a year vacationers. Opt for the line that has the business people in it – it may appear that they have more luggage, but they usually have a system to get through quickly. Avoid the line that has the large group with tons of bags. And once you’ve picked a line embrace it. It’s like driving in a lane of traffic, it always appears that the other lane is moving faster.
Move Out of the Way
When all your items have been scanned, gather them and move to the nearest bench to organize everything. The people in line behind you will appreciate the space to gather their items and moving out of the way helps the whole line go faster.
Smile – (but not in a creepy way) – it will make you feel more relaxed and many people will smile back. No one enjoys this process so relax and get through it with the rest of the crowd. Remember that travel is supposed to be fun, whether you’re visiting someplace new or heading home.
And there you have it – my tips for getting through airport security quickly. If you share these tips with your friends it might improve all of our time in line – and if you’ve got a tip I missed please share it in the comments below! Now that you’re through security you’ve got time to enjoy a drink before your flight!