Without the convenience of TSA precheck, Global Entry or CLEAR, navigating airport TSA can seriously be a headache. From random in-depth searches to one-too-many overstuffed carry-on bags, passengers can unknowingly slow down the process of getting through security.
If you want to avoid holding up your fellow travelers this holiday season, here are 10 ways to make getting through airport security a breeze.
Check into your flight the night before your flight is set to take off.
- British Airways/Flickr
All airlines send a courtesy email, call or text (depending on your preference) travelers to give them the opportunity to check-in 24 hours before the flight departs. Unless you have to check luggage that is larger than carry-on size, this probably the biggest hack that could save dozens, if not hundreds, of travelers time when they first arrive at the airport.
Arrive to the airport early.
- Paul Kane/ Getty
When flying domestically, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has long cautioned travelers to arrive at least an hour ahead of time, and two hours if you’re traveling internationally. Regardless of what area of the country you may reside, it’s not wise to assume you know how long an airport line will be. It’s better to err on the side of safety and give yourself extra time.
Invest in TSA precheck or Global Entry.
- Chris Hondros/ Getty Images
It’s surprising how many Americans have yet to take full advantage of TSA Pre and Global Entry.
At $85, you pay for a five-year membership that doesn’t require you to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets upon entering the security line.
With Global Entry, you pay $100 for a five-year membership, but you are granted expedited clearance back into the US after traveling abroad. With both options, you’re able to bypass the long security lines and get to your gate with enough time to stop and shop.
If you can’t decide between the two options, see why we recommend Global Entry.
Have boarding passes and form of identification out and ready.
- George Frey/Reuters
Our smartphones are fascinating devices that can be used for more than just sending a tweet or taking a selfie. On the iPhone within Apple Wallet, you can upload and save your boarding pass once you’ve downloaded it from your email confirmation.
For those with Android devices, Google Pay offers a similar app called WalletPasses where you can store your boarding passes too. So save a tree and go paperless with your mobile boarding pass.
Remove your shoes, coats, jackets, and other accessories off before getting to the front of the line.
- Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Nothing is worse than having to unswaddle yourself to walk through the body scanner. Before you leave home, take a look at the forecast and make a sound decision to dress a little lighter than usual.
Depending on where you will be traveling, you may discover you won’t need a large down coat and huge wool scarf. But if you do, keep your fellow travelers in mind and remove said accessories before it’s your turn in line.
Put laptops, big electronics and any other important things you’ll need in-flight in a place where you can easily access them.
- Joe Penney/Reuters
Next to the removal of clothing, this is probably the biggest pet peeve of a lot of travelers. Thankfully, there is no shortage of options when it comes to laptop bags.
If it’s an opened bottle of water or unfinished food, it has to get left behind.
- Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Although TSA does allow food to be carried through security, it’s important to know that it could go through an additional screening process. If you have a question about whether or not you’ll be able to travel with Grandma’s top secret pumpkin pie, just snap a picture or send a question to AskTSA on Facebook Messenger or Twitter.
Keep in mind, however, that there are some surprising foods you can’t take through airport security.
Be patient with first-time travelers, but offer help when you can.
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There will always be novice travelers or those traveling with their hands full who might a little bit of assistance. If you’re traveling by yourself, don’t hesitate to grab an extra bin for the traveler in front or behind you. We’re all looking to get to our destinations in a timely fashion, and teamwork will always help move things along.
Face forward and keep an eye open for the shorter lines.
- Mark Wilson/ Getty
It’s easy to get caught up in talking with a friend or scrolling aimlessly on your smartphone. But the more vigilant you are of your surroundings, the quicker the line will move forward. Another quick hack: Southern Living recommends veering to the left once you get to the security checkpoint – those lines tend to be shorter than the rest.
Fly at odd times.
- Flickr/Timothy Boyd
There’s nothing worse than walking into an airport to find it’s completely packed. If you can, try to avoid booking flights during times you know will be busy, like right before a major holiday.
In addition to planning around holiday travel, you’ll be wise to avoid peak times like between 4 – 8 p.m. on Friday and Sunday evenings.
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