How to Speed Through Airport Security

Airport security… the bane of every traveler and what I like to call my usual travel feel up. I’ve been through airport security more times than I can count and I’ve learned a few tricks that make it easier and faster. The key to airport security is really about knowing the rules and preparation. Here are my tips to getting through as painlessly as possible.

Knowledge – If you know what you can and cannot have it will simplify the process greatly.

  • Prohibited Items – Click Here for TSA List.  Don’t bring them.  It’s as simple as that.  It will slow you and everyone else down.
  • 3-1-1 rule – All fluids in bottles no bigger than 3.4 oz (100ml) and all of those bottles must fit in a single 1 quart ziplock or clear plastic bag. Must be out of your bag in a bin.
  • Shoes – In all US airports they are coming off. Not always overseas. Anticipate this and wear shoes that you can slip off/on easily.
  • Belts – If its metal it’s coming off, if it’s plastic it still might have to come off.  Anticipate it and take it off anyways.
  • Laptops/Tablets – Laptops always come out of the bag unless its a special TSA approved bag.  Tablets are hit or miss.  Some airports will make you take them out, others won’t.  Anticipate it and take it out anyways. Good news? you can leave that protective sleeve on the laptop or computer.
  • Pockets – Need to be empty.
  • Jackets – It’s coming off, so take it off ahead of time.

How to Speed Through Airport Security

Preparation – If you use the knowledge above and prep as you are heading towards the security checkpoints this will be one of the biggest factors to save you time.

  • The earlier you show up at the airport the less you have to worry about rushing.  My general rule is 1 hour before domestic flights and 1.5-2 hours before international.
  • Utilize apps to see if there is a wait at the security gates and which ones are the worst.
  • Holidays are the worst for increased traffic, Fridays/Sundays are next, followed by weekdays, and finally late night or earlier morning flights.

All of the tips below are as I’m walking toward the security checkpoint

  • I take off my belt and put it in my bag.
  • Wallet in the bag except for my boarding pass and ID.
  • Cell phone off and in the bag.
  • Keys and anything else in my pockets, in the bag before I even hit security.
  • The shoes I’m wearing are either sandals or slip on shoes that come off easily to throw in the bin.
  • My 3-1-1 quart liquid bag is in an easily accessible pocket in my bag to place in the bin quickly.
  • My laptop/tablet is in a easily accessible pocket in my bag to place in the bin quickly.
  • Boarding pass and ID are in my hand as I walk through.
  • Jacket off and in my arms

Scouting – As you approach the line look for these things.

  • Are there multiple entrances and if so which has the shortest line?
  • Is there a business traveler security checkpoint/line? Business travelers are fast and efficient. Follow their lead.
  • Are there big families in a specific line? Avoid that line. Families always take longer.

To scan or not to scan? I personally never like to expose my body to any unnecessary high energy particles so I always choose to “opt out”. This entails a security guard basically feeling me up.  Now this will add 2-5 min to your security time so if you are in a real rush skip it and do the scanners.  However, if like me, you’ve prepped and have plenty of time because of the above tips so no need to expose yourself to those things.  Some people find the feel up intrusive.  They run the back of their hand down the chest, inside the groin area, and around the inside of the belt line.  I always choose to have it done in public because if there is a problem there are other people around.  Always know your rights – ACLU – Rights when traveling.

Attitude – It’s my personal feeling that attitude is everything.  No one responds well to someone who is belligerent and aggressive.  If the security is hassling you, smile.  A smile goes a long way and will speed the process up.  If you get angry it makes you more of a problem and more of a threat. Most slow downs in security are because people aren’t prepared, don’t know the rules, or just simply forget things. There can always be unavoidable delays because of people around you. Be cool and you will fly through security without a problem.