5 New Tips From TSA to Make the Security Line Smooth and Easy
Keep this time-saving advice in mind when you're at the airport over the holidays.
Airports are always hustling and bustling, but they're notoriously busier during the holidays. If the record-breaking number of travelers over Thanksgiving weekend taught us anything, it's that crowds are back to the levels they were at pre-pandemic. Experts predict that the number of travelers this holiday season is likely to be significantly higher than in both 2020 and 2021.
Of course, more travelers means more people that need to make their way through security checkpoints, so you'll want to prepare for longer lines and wait times. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is preparing as well, offering important new recommendations to simplify the screening process. Read on for five tips the agency recommends to make the security line smooth and easy.
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Sign up for PreCheck.
If you don't have TSA PreCheck—which allows you to enter a separate (often shorter) security line—you've probably experienced a pang of jealousy when watching others bypass the regular line. PreCheck does require you to enroll ahead of time, but TSA says the program is actually a perfect holiday gift to yourself.
"Members of the popular TSA PreCheck program have access to checkpoint lanes that move faster than standard checkpoint lanes because travelers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck can leave on their shoes, belts, lightweight jackets and they can leave electronics and small containers of liquids in their carry-on bags," the agency wrote in a Dec. 8 news release. According to TSA's data, 92 percent of those with PreCheck waited less than five minutes at checkpoints in November.
The agency also announced a price drop for PreCheck, which is now $78 to enroll in a five-year membership and $70 to renew. "Treat yourself this holiday by enrolling in TSA PreCheck," the release states. "There are more than 500 enrollment locations across the country."
Download the myTSA app.
These days, there's truly an app for everything, and TSA is no exception. Also on its list of suggestions is that you download the free myTSA app.
"You will love its many features, the best of which is the 'Can I bring?' feature," the press release reads. "Type in the name of an item and the app will let you know immediately whether you should pack it in a checked bag, carry-on bag, either or neither. The app also has a link directly to TSA's social media team so you can send a question via Facebook Messenger or Twitter."
Even more conveniently, the app offers the ability to select your home airport and those you frequent. This will let you check flight delays, but the real bonus is in your ability to check estimates of the wait at security—no more guessing games! "The myTSA app will enhance every traveler's experience," the agency said.
READ THIS NEXT: TSA Issues New Alert on What You Can't Carry Through Security.
Upgrade your carry-on game.
There's nothing worse than going to pack your carry-on and forgetting about the liquid requirements. Keep yourself prepared and the next time you're at the drugstore, grab a few of those cute travel-sized toiletries (3.4 ounces or smaller). They even sell reusable options so you can fill them up using your regular-sized shampoo or lotion.
Having these on hand will be extra convenient, as all you'll have to do is pop them into your clear quart-size bag when you're ready to go.
Level up your checked luggage, too.
Some travelers prefer to check their baggage (eliminating the need to follow the liquid requirements), while others only check bags when embarking on an extended trip. You can't take these large bags through security, but you'll feel that much safer handing them off if you've secured them with a lock.
The trick here is that your lock should be TSA-compatible. "If your checked bag triggers an alarm during the security screening process, the bag will need to be opened so that a TSA officer can resolve the alarm," the agency explained in its press release. "If there is a TSA-compatible lock, then the TSA officer will use a master key to open the lock to peek inside the suitcase and then re-lock the suitcase afterward." If your lock isn't compatible, it'll be cut off and your bag will be left to fend for itself.
A surefire way to check if your lock is compatible is by looking near the keyhole. You should see the letters "TSA" engraved with a code number, which lets the TSA agent know what kind of master key they need to use.
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Take an extra step if you own a firearm.
If you plan to travel with a firearm, TSA says that a hard-sided case is a worthy investment. According to the agency's press release, options are available at sporting goods stores, gun shops, as well as online.
"You can travel with a firearm as long as it is packed properly," the agency said. "If it's not packed properly, you will come face-to-face with a police officer and you'll get a hefty civil citation from TSA."
TSA is currently on track to stop a record number of guns across U.S. airports, meaning you'll want to take extra care if and when you travel with a firearm. The "proper" way to do so is to make sure it's unloaded and packed in one of these hard-sided cases. You'll also need to declare it at the airline counter so that it can be stored in the cargo hold as opposed to the main cabin.