Going through TSA airport security screenings wouldn’t be considered the highlight of anyone’s trip. But it can also ruin the excitement of your impending trip. Things can quickly turn to frustration right there at the airport. There’s all the drama that goes along with having to act quickly as you and all your things go through the scanner and detectors: pulling off belts and hats, whipping off shoes, and struggling to find an additional basket for your laptop. And then, horror of horrors, TSA agents are motioning that they need to pull you aside for pat down or additional screening. Why? Because you didn’t prepare properly or at all.
Here 6 things you can do ahead of time to get through TSA airport screenings faster and with no hassle.
Join an Expedited Security Program
TSA PreCheck, Clear, and the Global Entry Program are some of the most popular options. Entrance into these programs will set you back around $100, but they do away with some of the time-consuming steps you normally have to undergo at security and customs checkpoints. The Global Entry Program was established by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to help lower-risk travelers gain clearance in an expedited fashion. Since it includes TSA PreCheck, this program will also help you get through TSA airport security quicker. You can apply for all of these programs online.
Monitor Wait Times at Your Airport & Plan to Go When Its less Busy
One of the more practical ways to avoid security lines at the airport is to look at the wait times and aim to go when it’s least busy. Of course, you’ll have to work this around your flight time. You don’t want to end up missing your flight just to shave a few minutes off of your waiting time. Apps like GateGuru and MiFlight provide constant updates on waiting times for security in airports around the world. Some airports even have this information listed on their official website. Since TSA airport security wait times continue to reach unprecedented peaks, now is the best time to be precise with your time. Even when you’re at the airport, you can still maximize your time by keeping an eye on the length of the security line and approaching when there’s a lull.
We’re all familiar with the adage, “dress for the occasion.” Since airport security is a unique occasion, it demands a special kind of strategy when it comes to choosing and organizing your wardrobe and personal belongings. First things first, be sure to move any loose items from your pockets and into your carry-on luggage. This way, you won’t be wasting time fishing for your keys, wallet, phone, and other gadgets and gizmos when in line. Anything you’re not comfortable placing in your luggage can go in your jacket and be quickly reclaimed on the other side of the X-ray machines.
When it comes to footwear, it’s advisable to go with something that’s easy to take on and off. Messing with complicated straps, strings, or other newfangled contraptions will only cause you to spend more valuable time in line. A loose pair of sneakers or slipper-like shoes are best. AND don’t forget to wear socks! They’ll protect you from the nasty airport floor that never seems to get cleaned enough.
It’s also best to avoid wearing anything metal like jewelry of size, hair clips, belts with metal buckles and bras with underwire
Don’t Overdo It with Electronics
It’s one thing to have a camera and a laptop in your carry-on bag, but to carry a laptop, a DSLR with 3 separate lenses, a tripod, an iPad and a docking station will start to draw attention. You might be asking for an extra screening of the items in your bag with all that gear.
If you’re carrying a laptop, netbook or iPad, remove it from the bag and sleeve. Place the laptop in its own separate bin for scanning. We all know that security standards vary by country, but it is a wise decision to do this no matter where you are in the world in order to keep the line flowing in case you’re asked to take it out.
Have Your Paperwork Ready
TSA airport security isn’t just there to make you sure you don’t have any restricted items in your luggage or on your person. They’re also responsible for ensuring that you have the required documents to fly: a boarding ticket and government-issued ID. Preparing these documents ahead of time can make it easier to get through that initial document check and on your way to the security lines quicker. Before you approach the line, make sure you have both your ID and ticket in your hand or easily accessible. You could even invest in some specially-designed travel wallets that hold both your ID and boarding card so you don’t have to worry about keeping track of both. Alternatively, if you can manage to download your boarding passes on your phone, you won’t have to worry about keeping track of multiple pieces of paper.
Be on Your Best Behavior
Do not talk back to agents, cause a scene, or disobey the rules. We know security checkpoints aren’t among the happiest places in the world, but a good attitude can go a long way in making the experience better for all parties involved.