5 tips for getting through airport security quickly

It’s a holiday weekend, and lots of people are on the road. Because more travelers than usual are less experienced, I wanted to share my top five airport security tips.

1)      Give yourself some extra time. The lines will likely be pretty long, so it will definitely make things less stressful if you arrive earlier than usual. I have been getting to my airport around 90 minutes early, but at larger airports I would recommend at least two hours before your flight leaves.

2)      Be ready to go BEFORE you get to the front of the line. Have all of your flight documents and your ID ready to hand to the TSA officer. Also, pack everything you’ll need to take out for the X-ray machine at the top of your bag. Put everything in your pockets in your bag.

3)      Once you get to the X-ray line, get your stuff out, even if you don’t have bins yet. The usual things that need to go through the X-ray machine separately are:

  • Plastic bag of toiletries (one quart size Ziploc bag, nothing over three ounces)
  • Shoes
  • Laptop

4)      Once you get to the actual x-ray machine, put your shoes through first (which are slip on and don’t require tying, right?). Then your laptop bin, then your personal item bin, and finally your suitcase. Put your suitcase on the belt handle first for easy pick up on the other side.

5)      After going through the machines (and this is SUPER important), grab your bins and walk everything over to the convenient bench just a few feet away. That way you don’t hold up the line putting all your things in their right places.

Remember, being prepared before you go into the line is the most important thing. All of that being said, try to have patience with your fellow travelers. Yes, the line may move more slowly than you’d like, but being mad about it won’t make it move any more quickly.

Readers, what are your best tips for getting through security quickly?

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  1. Thank you so much for mentioning grab your stuff and go to the bench. It is so frustrating when people just stand in someone else’s way trying to get completely redressed and put everything in it’s special little spot. Grab your stuff and repack it out of the way if you need to.

  2. OMG, #5 times a million. This is my biggest pet peeve when going through security. I understand that plenty of people don’t fly very often, and so they tend to be slower going through security, but #5 is just common sense (but sadly many people don’t do it)!

  3. Don’t wear a belt. Or if you wear one, take it off before you get in the security line and don’t put it back on until you get to the gate. I can’t believe how often I see (mostly) guys stopping to thread the belt through all of the loops at the end of the security line!

    Oh, and PreCheck. The $100 I paid for Global Entry was the best gift I gave myself last year. If only Columbus, my most frequent destination these days, would add a PreCheck lane…

  4. Okay, I understand it is a good tip, but #1 is completely opposite of the post title. The article is about tips to get through security quickly, and #1 is to get there early (presumably because it will take a long time).

  5. I always put my computer last. In this way it spends the least amount of time out of my sight or sitting on the other side unattended b/c of a delay getting through the scanner – mostly due to others have not followed your simple rules.

  6. I am agreeing with the above commenter. I always put my laptop through last–suitcase, personal items, laptop–so that if I’m delayed getting through the scanner I still arrive ahead of my computer.

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