Security. The necessary, yet annoying, part of travel. Don’t get me wrong, deep down, I love our TSA agents and are grateful for their presence. However, I just want to get on with my vacation already! Here are some of my top tips for helping you speed through those lines to get of to that pre-flight lounging:
1. Skip the checked bag
Okay, technically, this is before you get to security but it is still applicable in my book. Without checking a bag, you can get off to security even quicker.
When you check a bag, you have to wait in a queue before you even get to the security queue. Yuck. When you don’t check a bag, you can check in online or on the airline app. This allows you to get your boarding pass on your phone and go right to the security line. Completely skipping the first step of air travel 😀
Note: If you must check a bag, I still recommend checking in online before getting to the airport, especially if you do not have a seat assignment already. Depending on the airport and the airline, this may also get you through that first line slightly faster.
2. Get TSA Pre-check or Global Entry (if possible):
If you are already traveling a lot or plan on traveling quite a bit in the future, then I would highly recommend getting into a trusted traveler program (TSA pre-check or Global Entry being a couple of the most popular). If you jump through a few more hoops to get Global Entry, it automatically comes with the TSA pre-check and you only have to renew it every 5 years. I will skip all the details and add a link to the TSA info here. I will add that I cannot begin to explain how much time it has saved me. One of the best $100 that I spent as a frequent traveler.
3. Look for Business Travelers:
If you have the option between multiple lines, always look the business traveler. Granted, not all business travelers look like business travelers. I’m a 5’2″ person who likes to travel in my leggings and often gets mistaken for a teenager (granted, less and less every year). However, if you have the option between standing behind a solo traveler that is travelling light and a family with two kids, choose the solo traveler. The family with kids, under no fault of their own, is going to be way slower getting everyone shuffled through security. They likely have formula that has to be checked, tons of bags to “unpack”, and possibly a stroller that needs scanned, all while trying to herd the kids through the metal detector.
"if you have the option between standing behind a solo traveler that is travelling light and a family with two kids, choose the solo traveler"
4. PACK WITH SECURITY ANTICIPATION: IE LAPTOP AND ELECTRONICS EASILY ACCESSIBLE, TOILET BAG ON TOP
We all know we have to go through security when we get to the airport, so pack with anticipation 🙂 Two major items come to mind: toiletries and large electronics.
Toiletries: Pack your 3 fl.oz. bottles together in a clear plastic bag and pack it on top of your suitcase or in a side pocket. It is so annoying when you get to the airport and you have to unpack half your bag to get to your toiletries.
Large Electronics: Similarly make sure your laptop or tablet is easily accessible to take out and put in a separate bin.
Of Course, none of this is necessary if you are apart of a trusted traveler program. You can zip through security with a simplified scan when you are travelling domestically. It still applies abroad and returning to the US.
5. WEAR SLIP ON/OFF SHOES WITH SOCKS:
This tip is pretty self explanatory. You will be required to remove your shoes to go through security. Personally it grosses me out to walk barefoot through the security line and stand on the feet stickers in the body scan machine where thousands of other barefooted people have stood that day. That is why I mention the socks.
6. SKIP THE BELT AND HEAVY JEWELRY:
When going through security, your belt, watch, and heavy jewelry will have to come off. It is better to pack those things and limit the amount of “undressing” you will have to do in the security line.
7. WATCH OUT FOR “STRAPPY” BRAS
This one is something that I literally never thought of until it happened to me. You know those super cute sports bras that have like a million tiny straps in a cute pattern across your back….well, full body scanners hate those and you will get stopped and patted down every time. Pack those and wear a boring one on travel day.
“Free to be” by Lululemon
8. EMPTY YOUR POCKETS
Change, keys, cell phones, weird shapes will all set off either the metal detector or the body scanner. Try to either travel with empty pockets or empty them while you are waiting in line
9. CARRY AN EMPTY WATER BOTTLE (Secret Bonus Tip)
Carry an empty water bottle with you. Make sure it is empty though because you will not be allowed to take the liquid through security. But once you get on the other side, you can fill it up in a fountain. This will save you the outrageous airport prices 😀
10. LAYERS OFF:
My first instinct while traveling is to dress in layers. Inevitably, the airport will be melting and the airplane will the freezing. It also saves baggage space! However, just remember you will have to remove all those layers whenever you go through security. Start stripping early!
I hope some of these tips get you a speedy security check the next time you travel! Just note that not all airports are the same. There are basic guidelines at every airport that I tried to encompass here, but there could be some unexpected “rules” at any given time, especially if you travel abroad. For example, they could have the TSA dogs out if it is a heavy travel day, allowing you to forego the unpacking of the toiletries or electronics. I’ve also had them require everyone take shoes off no matter your security status.
Just remember that TSA agents are here to keep us safe and we all are going through the same thing. Try to be patient and listen to the instructions of the friendly neighborhood TSA agent and you will do just fine 🙂
As always, Happy Travelling