6 Secret Hacks to Make Getting Through Airport Security a Breeze
These tips will make your next encounter with the TSA so much easier.
Going through airport security can be a hectic experience, no matter how accustomed to traveling you may be. Long lines, unexpected delays, and the general chaos that comes with quickly removing your belongings from luggage and then putting them back can feel downright disorienting in the best of circumstances. But while it may feel like an unavoidable step towards getting to your destination, experts say there are a few tips that can ensure getting through airport security is a breeze. Read on to see how you could make your next trip a little less stressful.
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Pack your electronics strategically.
Whether you pack with careful precision or tend to jam items into your bag at the last minute, it's never easy to unpack and repack items while going through security. Experts suggest planning ahead by strategically packing items that may need to come out of your luggage at a checkpoint in an accessible place.
"To get through airport security as quickly as possible, have your laptop and other larger electronics completely ready to pull out of your personal item or carry-on, ready to be scanned in their own bin," Becca Siegel from Halfhalftravel.com tells Best Life. "What you don't want is for your laptop to be buried under other items that have to be stacked like Tetris again when you put the laptop back!"
But it's not just your computer you have to worry about. "Also, make sure cameras and any tablets are readily available to be pulled quickly out of your bag, purse, or luggage at security," Siegel adds.
Always assume the worst when it comes to security requirements.
There are a few constants when getting through airport security, such as ensuring your liquids are the right size and that you're not carrying any prohibited items such as weapons. However, the experience can differ otherwise depending on the airport.
"Some checkpoints require you to take off your shoes, while some let you leave shoes on. Some say to take laptops and iPads out of bags, while others say to leave them packed. The lesson is that anywhere you go, there is no steadfast standard for the process, which is frustrating," Heidi Ferguson, a flight attendant with 20 years of experience in the commercial and private aviation industry, tells Best Life.
To be prepared, she suggests always wearing a pair of shoes that are easy to take on and off, and avoiding wearing a belt if possible. And besides making sure your bags are packed efficiently, you should also ensure that anything like liquids that may have to come out of your luggage is easily accessible and already in your hand before you even get up to the plastic bins.
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Don't neglect your suitcase between trips.
The fatigue you feel after coming home from a long trip can make it hard to do anything more than toss your bag down as soon as you walk back through the door. However, it can be important to completely empty its contents at some point between trips if you want to save precious time the next time you fly, Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told The Washington Post in a Dec. 2021 interview. Specifically, you should be looking for anything that could get your bag pulled for a more thorough search, such as liquids or sharp items you may have picked up while traveling.
Don't overdo it on the fashion accessories.
There's nothing wrong with dressing in a way that suits your personality. Unfortunately, metal detectors have little to no respect for your bold fashion sense.
"If you're someone who wears a lot of jewelry, keep it in bags or cases until you're past security. That way, you can leave it inside your luggage or bags, and you won't risk being stopped and patted down after walking through the detectors," Siegel tells Best Life. Most importantly, this can also ensure you don't accidentally leave anything behind in a tray if you have to take a piece off while walking through the checkpoint.
Sign up for security clearance.
Long lines at the airport may seem like an inevitability that comes with the process of boarding a flight. But if you're a regular traveler, experts point out that services exist that can greatly expedite the process.
"For those who really hate lines, there is always TSA PreCheck and the Clear service if you want to breeze on through, which I highly recommend," Ferguson tells Best Life.
According to the TSA, PreCheck is in place at more than 200 airports and cuts down wait time to less than five minutes for 95 percent of travelers. The program costs $85 for five years, but accepted applicants will no longer have to take off their shoes, belt, or light jackets, and can leave their laptops and regulation-sized liquids in their bags at most security checkpoints.
While it's only available at about 40 airports, Clear works by verifying your identity through an eye or fingerprint scan that gets you to the front of the line for physical screening. At $189 a year, it's best suited for frequent flyers with tight schedules that may not allow for early airport arrivals. But when used alongside PreCheck, the combined services offer an unbeatably fast way to get through security. And since many credit cards provide partial or complete coverage of membership costs as a perk, it may not cost you anything for the convenience.
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Be realistic when budgeting your time.
The recent influx of air travelers may be making it difficult to fly these days, but it's also creating a problem when it comes to even getting into the airport. The TSA even warned flyers in June that checkpoint numbers had finally reached pre-pandemic levels, urging travelers to "get to the airport early" to avoid the crowds.
Experts stress that on busy holiday travel weekends in particular, it can be crucial to budget your time accordingly. "Understand that there are people who come to the airport who are not going to be regular travelers, which means that they're going to take longer in the security lines," Nelson told The Post. "Give yourself plenty of time so that you're not rushed and feeling anxious yourself."