Travel Tips: How to Speed Through Airport Security

Posted Apr 8th 2013 02:34 PM

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Security lines are one of the biggest headaches in airline travel. Queues are long, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is always changing the rules, and you never know how long it's going to take to cross that checkpoint and make it to the promised land.
Those variables make it incredibly difficult to manage time before for your trip, let alone manage your baggage or a family. But there are a few things that you can do to speed your journey.

Check the airport
You probably know that many airport terminals have multiple points of entry, but did you also know some are digitally tracked? Most passengers head straight through the airport's front door, but the doors on the side are much faster and easier. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson is a great example. Using its Trak-a-Line tool, you can tell which lines are open and, among those, which have the shortest wait.

Know your imaging device
New advanced imaging technology scanners (AITs) require that your pockets be empty and that belts, watches and heavy sweaters be removed. This can cost precious time when passing through security, so if you have the option, choose a line with a magnetometer (metal detector) and leave your money and boarding pass in your pockets. You can often leave your belt on in these lines as well, unless instructed otherwise by a TSA agent.

Load your jacket with your valuables
Collecting your items out of the plastic bin at the other side of security is not only time-consuming, it's risky. Loose items like boarding passes, bills and coins can easily get separated in the constantly moving and stacking bins, and tracking them down at the lost-and-found can make you miss your flight. Instead, take your valuables out of your pockets before security and put them into your jacket pocket. If your pockets can zip, even better. Once through the line and in the terminal, you can unload and walk at the same time.

Wear easy-to-maneuver clothing
Seconds count at the security checkpoint, both for you and the people behind you. Do yourself a favor and wear something that's easy to remove and contains little metal. Suggested articles include:
• Belts with small buckles or plastic clasps
• Slip-on shoes without large buckles (some checkpoints let you wear shoes through security)
• Tighter-fitting clothing (loose clothing can sometimes lead to pat-downs)

Use TSA-approved luggage
Removing your laptop every time you go through security is both time-consuming and difficult, but the TSA has taken steps to reduce this burden. Bags that fulfill TSA requirements will flip open to easily display your laptop as it passes through security, then let you snap everything up and scoot away. Check out Tom Binh's Checkpoint Flyer Briefcase for a great example.

Use the priority line
Getting elite status or signing up for an advance screening process like TSA's Pre ✓ or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry program will drastically reduce wait time at the airport. Check out our travel blog Gadling for details.

More tips to help you travel better:
How to Find Under the Radar Travel Spots
Group Trips: How to Plan a Smooth Getaway
Flying With Kids: How to Avoid a Cataclysm in Seat 9B
How to Communicate Abroad When You Don't Speak the Local Language
How to Relieve Stress on the Road
How to Hack Your Hotel Room and Make it More Like Home

Expert: International Airline Security Lacking
Filed Under: Tips & Tricks

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