The holidays are officially upon us and that means more travelers hitting the airport to visit friends, families or possibly just take advantage of a rockin’ travel deal. There’s no doubt that the airport will be crowded with travelers and lovely people picking up and saying goodbye, but the busiest place won’t be the stores or eateries, or even the waiting room, but the security line. No one likes to wait in it and everyone thinks it’s a hassle, even though it’s kind of exciting, because you’re going somewhere, hopefully, fun. While your airport might be more organized than some others out there, they still need you to do your part in making security an easier process for everyone. Here are some tips to help you get through security quickly and easily, even if they pull you aside and dig through your bag.
Have your photo ID and boarding pass in-hand – You can’t even get to the security conveyor belts and scanners if you don’t make it past the TSA agent in the line. Make sure to be prepared and keep the line moving, by having your photo ID (or passport) and boarding pass at the ready. Nobody wants to wait for you to dig around in your bag to find it and you will just make enemies of those people in line behind you. Even better, download the airline app and use the e-ticket to check in and get through security. You can use your phone to show the passes of everyone in your travel group, as long as they have their identification out.
Have your 3-1-1 bag out – Don’t wait until you get to the airport to start rummaging around in your toiletry bag and finding all your liquids and gels. Buy a TSA-approved 3-1-1 bag online or at the store or pick up a box of 1-liter zip-top bags and fill it up before you leave home. It will make you less stressed and you’ll know that everything fits in there.
Wear easy-on, easy-off shoes – Do you want to spend 20 minutes untying your hiking books to take off and put in the security bin? Probably not. Also, the people behind you do not want to wait for you either. Make sure you wear shoes that can easily be taken off and put back on, so you can make security procedures that much less painful for you and everyone else involved.
Do not wrap your gifts – TSA is all about seeing everything in your bag. Even if you only have one gift in your bag, don’t wrap it. You will have spent all that time and energy making it look pretty and then getting it into your bag, only to have an agent rip your paper to shreds to find out what you packed. Bring small gifts that can be packed without boxes and wrapping paper. By all means, bring those staples with you to wrap at your destination if you have room in your bag.
Make sure your laptop is easily accessible – If you’re bringing a laptop, netbook or iPad, make sure you can quickly access it and slide it in and out of your carry-on. It will make the security line that much faster when you have to dump all your individual things into a bin: shoes, jacket, purse, pocket contents, laptop, 3-1-1 bag. The quicker these things can be put into a bin, the faster you can push them towards the X-Ray machine and make room for other travelers’ items and bins on the counter.
Go to the left – Most people are predisposed to turn right, probably because they are right-handed, but that means the left lines are usually shorter at TSA. If you aren't being directed by a security person, try this, or look for the line with fewest kids. I'm not being ageist, but you know those harried moms and dads have to do a bunch of things to get their little ones through the line, especially if strollers are involved. They're going to hold you up, too.
Apply for Pre-Check – There's still time before Christmas hols to get on the Pre-Check list. Why is it awesome? Because you can leave your laptop and liquids in your bag, plus keep your shoes and jacket on. Remember when travel used to be so easy? Eric and I have gotten approved for Pre-Check and It's. The. Best. You save a ton of time, too, because the line is shorter and you don't have to do all that extra stuff. It costs $85, but it is valid for 5 years, so if you travel at least twice per year, or through really busy airports, then it's worth it.
If you're traveling for the holidays, where will you be headed?