3 things people dislike about airport security & what to do about it

Going through security at an airport can be a frustrating experience, to say the least.  Travelers just want to get 2-24-15-2through as quickly as possible so they don’t miss their flight, and on a good day have time to grab a bite to eat before boarding.  But no matter how badly you want to get through you still have to play by the rules.  Here are 3 things people dislike about airport security, and some suggestions to ease the pain.

Long lines.  Long lines are inevitable when going through airport security, but there are some things you can do to help speed up the process.  You could sign up for the TSA’s Pre-Check program, and for $85 you avoid taking off your shoes, can leave your laptop in your bag, and will experience much shorter lines (much of the time) for five years.  In fact, I see Pre-Check as the best time saver available, and 100% worth the cost. However, if that’s not in the budget there are other options as well. You could use apps like My TSA & MiFlight (MiFlight is much higher rated) to get an estimate on wait times in security, giving you an idea of whether or not you need to leave for the airport super early.  These apps won’t fix your wait time but could better set your expectations.  Another way it’s possible to get through security quicker is to simply go to another security line.  Many airports have more than one screening area.  Find out if the airports you’ll be using have multiple security lines.   If they do make note of where the security lines are and if one is super busy try the other.  I’ve had a lot of success doing this.   Finally, there’s elite status.   If your airport doesn’t have Pre-Check, or if you don’t personally have Pre-Check, there are often elite status lines you can go through.  (If you haven’t signed up for your airline’s reward program here’s a link with common rewards programs to learn more about elite status.)

Extra Screening.  You may think there’s no way you’ll go through extra screening when going through security, but it happens to even the most tenured fliers, including me. Sigh. One way you can avoid extra screening is to make sure the items in your carryon are neatly packed.  This allows the security agent to easily view the items being  x-rayed.  Here’s an example picture from TSA website.

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Also make sure you don’t have a forgotten bottle of water or big tube of something like sunscreen in your carryon.  I’ve left each of these items in my bag before and it slows the whole line down.   Remember that all liquids (including gels like gel deodorant) need to be in containers 3.4 oz or less, inside a quart-sized clear plastic bag.  If you are unsure of what’s allowed through security use this TSA site to search and learn.

Taking things out.  Taking your laptop and liquids out of your bag can be pretty annoying.  Again, you can go the Pre-Check route and most of the time not have to take your laptop out of your bag, but there are a couple of other things you can do.  If you have a TSA approved laptop case such as this one you don’t have to remove your laptop from the case.  You can also get a tablet and not have to remove it from your bag according to the TSA.  And honestly I’ve just been leaving my liquids bag inside my suitcase and I haven’t been called out on it, though of course YMMV.

Yes, security can be annoying, but as long as we are all prepared and can take advantage of things like Pre-Check we can get through it (reasonably) quickly.

Readers, what is your biggest security pet peeve?

Be sure to check out my page with the best carry-on luggage according to readers.

Best carry-on luggage

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Comments

  1. For those travelling internationally – Global Entry gets you TSA Pre eligibility too. Global Entry costs $100. For a mere $15 more than TSA Pre you get international too! Global Entry registration lasts for 5 years just like TSA Pre

  2. I actually don’t mind airport security – outside of one (now hilarious) security person in Paris (who pulled every single thing out of my bag, making commentary, in French – which I speak – and then handing me back my bag with stuff sticking out and a total mess) I’ve had nothing but good experiences with security. My problem is other people. Being behind people who don’t fly often is a pain, but I don’t think even they have an excuse – it’s all on the internet for them to research! So I don’t mind the precautions at all. But as Sartre said, “Hell is other people”!

  3. For those not travelling from the US, pre-check is unfortunately not available to you to sign up for directly, however if you’re coming from Canada or Mexico you can get Global Entry (Nexus) which doesn’t guarantee you pre-check but gives it to you something like 80-95% of the time.

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