How to fly through airport security
Master airport security lines and arrive to your gate with plenty of time to spare.
No one loves waiting in the airport security line, but there are ways to make it go a little faster.
Before you walk out the door
Simple packing strategies can save you precious time in the airport security line. Save the bottom of your carry-on or checked bag for the things you don’t need in between your front door and airplane seat. Your purse or personal item should be saved for your travel documents, essential medicines and toiletries and your electronics and chargers.
Wear a jacket or outer layer to the airport to stow small items like your watch and phone in an outside pocket. It’s a lot easier to take off your jacket than fumble with a tray at the conveyor belt. While it may seem like common sense, wear shoes that are easy to take on and off, or loosen your laces before you get to security.
Know the liquids rule and limit liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces or less per item. Placing these items in a small bag and keeping them accessible helps the screening process. If you don’t want to pay a premium for bottled water at the airport, pack an empty reusable bottle and fill it up at the water fountain after security.
Sign up for programs and alerts
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck is an expedited security screening program that simplifies the process for registered travelers. In a nutshell, if you’re a low-risk passenger, you can zip through security screening faster without removing your shoes, liquids, belts and jackets.
The MyTSA app enables users to monitor wait times as they are reported by fellow travelers. The AskTSA team on Twitter or Facebook Messenger answer travel-related questions in real time from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays.
More importantly, don’t forget to register your cell phone number with the airline after you book your flight to receive up-to-the-minute alerts on flight delays, gate changes and other important information specific to your travel. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also keeps track of airport delays across the country and we include that information for each airport on our location pages. Check out your home facility page for any known delays at that airport.
Pick the right line
Shorter lines don’t always mean faster lines. Avoid getting behind big groups and families with kids in tow. Getting strollers and extra carry-ons through the line adds to the already-rushed tasks travelers face when loading up their belongings on the conveyer belt. In addition, many travelers also choose the checkpoint closet to where they checked in for their flights. If you’re willing to walk a little, there’s probably a shorter line at an alternate security point.
We’d love to hear more time-saving tips from our business travelers. Share your tips and tricks on our Facebook page.