If you want to breeze through airport security, all you need is a strategy. When I was a kid my uncle would take us to the airport as a form of entertainment. We’d park the car, go into the terminal, have something to eat and watch the planes take off and land. We loved it.
As an adult, I chose a career that required me to spend a lot of time in airports. I wonder if there was a connection? I still like airports. I like getting there early to wander around looking at the stores. No matter how onerous the airport process can be, there are always little tips and hacks that can make the process faster and more efficient. Here are some tips I picked up that I hope can help you breeze through airport security next time you travel.
HOW TO BREEZE THROUGH AIRPORT SECURITY EFFICIENTLY
1. Download your airline’s app and check flight status before you leave home.
If you are driving and leaving your car at the airport, take a picture of your car at the parking lot to make it easier to find on your return.
2. Check in online and download your boarding pass.
3. Arrive early; 1-2 hours for domestic flights, 2-3 hours for international.
4. Pack liquids in a plastic see-through Ziploc bag. Remember the 3-1-1 rule: liquids should be 3.4 oz or less, they must be stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-lock bag and only one zip-top bag per person.
5. If you are a frequent traveler, it is worth signing up with Trusted Travelers Programs. The two most common and useful ones are TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. TSA PreCheck is for travel within the U.S. If you are enrolled, you will not have to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts and light jackets. Sometimes when people are frequent travelers you can be granted TSA PreCheck status automatically. But for most people, you will need to apply. To learn about the requirements, costs and registration for PreTSA, click here.
Global Entry is used for international travel. These programs will help you breeze through airport security so you can get to your gate quickly. Only low-risk flyers can qualify for these programs and registration fees are required. For information on how to apply for Global Entry, click here. Signing up for these programs may be one of the best travel investments you make to help you breeze through airport security. It is soooo worth it. Also check out this guide that answers many of your questions and contains maps and kiosks on where to apply.
6. One of the best ways to breeze through airport security is to use a carry bag whenever possible. Checking bags is a pain. It can be costly, time-consuming and the airline may lose your bag causing you endless hassles. You’d be surprised how with a little creative packing you could fit everything into a carry-on. Check out these packing tips to learn how.
7. Check in next to the first and business class line. The agents will frequently take you if they run out of passengers to check in.
8. Place your documents in an easily accessible location so you can get at them quickly. Likewise all your travel gear; earphones, ebook reader, snacks, pen.
9. A line with business people is likely to proceed faster than a line with families and baby carriages. Choose accordingly to help you breeze through airport security.
10. People tend to turn in the direction of their dominant hand, i.e. right. The line on the left may be shorter. Look left.
11. Take a mental inventory of what you will need to remove: shoes, coins, electronics, liquids, belt, jacket while you are working your way up to the beginning of the security line. Don’t start the process when you arrive at the beginning of the line. Wear slip-off shoes to remove them and put them on more easily.
12. Get into the secure boarding area as quickly as you can. Any kind of disturbance at an airport is more likely to happen BEFORE security. Life is safer on the other side.
13. Bring an empty water bottle to fill up in the secure boarding area. Staying hydrated during a flight is critical to your comfort level.
ONCE YOU ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE
14. Bring a phone charger as you may not be able to locate a power outlet at the airport or they may all be taken.
15. Hang out at empty gates. They are likely to have power outlets for charging and empty seats for lounging.
16. Memorize your passport number. That way you won’t have to dig it out to write the number in customs declaration.
17. Have travel clothing for the flight. It will make your more comfortable.
18. Take pictures of books you find interesting in the bookstores so you can download them to your device and read on the plane.
19. DO NOT. I repeat, DO NOT place anything of value in the back pocket of the seat in front of you. You may forget it. You will be tempted. You will say to yourself, “oh, I’ll remember. I’m only putting it there for a second.” Don’t do it. You have been warned.
These tried and true tips with definitely help you breeze through airport security. What are some of your tips? We’d love to hear them.