Getting through airport security as quickly as possible is most travelers’ goal, whether they’re flying for business or leisure. It may be impossible to whisk through the TSA checkpoint in just a few minutes. However, there are a few ways to move more quickly through security, which in turn speeds up the process for those around you.
Here’s how to get through airport security faster, even without elite status, first class tickets, or TSA PreCheck™.
9 Tips for Airport Security
1. Be polite and cooperative.
Everyone you encounter, from the airline employees helping you print your boarding pass to the TSA agents watching you walk through the body scanner, is trying to do their job well. Treating them with respect is one of the easiest ways to breeze through security quickly. Make a rude remark and you may find yourself waiting much longer for your items to pass through the x-ray machine or subject to a pat-down.
2. Listen to TSA officials.
Every airport’s security staff operates a little bit differently and prioritizes different rules. Listen to the agents’ directions to get through airport security faster. This also helps the people around you understand what to do when it’s their turn to go through the process, and that speeds up security for everyone.
3. Fly at less popular times.
With more flights in the air during holidays and business travelers departing and arriving on Mondays and Fridays, airport security lines can get long. Choose less popular times of the week and year (if possible) to make your trip through security faster.
You can take this tip one step further and choose to book flights in and out of smaller, less busy airports when possible.
4. Check your bag.
This can add time to your trip as a whole, as you’ll have to wait for your luggage to arrive at your destination. However, not having a large bag with you as you pass through the TSA checkpoint can make your security experience much less of a hassle. If you’re bringing a lot of luggage, consider shipping it to your destination ahead of time.
5. Don’t pack gel-like food.
Each traveler is limited to one quart-sized bag of liquids and gels, each of which can only be 3.4 ounces. Gel-like food counts towards these limits, so leave peanut butter, jelly, and condiments at home. You’ll also want to empty water bottles before stepping into line. Instead, try one of these airport snacks.
6. Keep documents accessible.
The people waiting behind you will not take kindly to you losing your passport and boarding pass in the depths of your bag. Keep documents you’ll need to access in a zippered coat or carry on pocket to move through security more quickly. The opposite is also true; keep items you don’t need right away out of the way.
7. Slip loose items into your bag.
While waiting in line, empty the contents of your pockets into your carry on bag. This way, you won’t have to spend time placing loose items into a bin. You also reduce the chance you’ll leave jewelry, keys, or change at security.
8. Wear slip-on shoes.
First, you’ll want to know whether or not you (or your fellow travelers) have to take your shoes off — before you get to the checkpoint. Depending on your age, TSA PreCheck™ status, and other factors, you may not need to remove your shoes at all.
For those who do need to remove their footwear, shoes that are easy to slip on and off make getting through airport security faster. You’ll also want socks (already on your feet) to protect your feet during the time you have your shoes off.
9. Make it easy to unpack tech.
All electronics larger than a cellphone need to be placed in their own bin, unless they’re in a TSA-approved case. Don’t pack your laptop or camera at the bottom of your bag, or you’ll spend a lot of time unpacking (and repacking) for the TSA agents.