Not everybody loves flying. From the long drive to the airport, to the overpriced food at the terminals, there are hardly any redeeming qualities about air travel. However, for most people, by far the worst part of the entire flying experience is getting through the mandatory security checkpoint - the single part of your traveling experience with the most rampant inefficiency and the most uncomfortable exposure to strangers.
However, while going through security is certainly never fun, it doesn't have to be as painful as it is now. It is with that in mind that we have listed, below, five useful tips to make going through airport security less difficult, suggestions that will help you move faster and make you feel less embarrassed during your next airport experience.
5. Dress Prepared
There's nothing more embarrassing than having to sit down in a TSA line in an attempt to unlace or unstick your tight new converse shoes. Just don't do it. Instead, try dressing in a way that is amenable to TSA guidelines, so you can save yourself and the people behind you a lot of trouble. Slip-on shoes, for instance, will make your experience remarkably easier, as will wearing thick socks (no one wants to walk barefoot on the airport floor). Also try minimizing the metal in your ensemble. It may look flashy, but it's sure to hold you up when you beep going through the metal detector.
4. Have Your ID Ready
Most people who have travelled before know that you need your ID and boarding pass ready when you go through security. However, for many people, there is still a circus of zipping, patting, and searching when they finally get to the front of the line. Instead, put your ID and boarding pass in a designated pocket BEFORE you get into line. While it may seem like an unnecessary task, being prepared with pass and ID every time you go through a security checkpoint is sure to make the time you spend there move a lot quicker and feel a lot less awkward.
3. Invest in a New Computer Bag
It should come as no surprise that the TSA would want to scan your computer in the metal detector. What many people don't know, however, is that certain pre-approved TSA computer bags can be sent through the machines without taking the computer out of its case. These new "butterfly," "trifold," and "sleeve" designs will make going through security all the easier, reducing hassle on both side of the lines and lowering the risk of damage or exposure for your computer.
2. Know Your Liquid Limit
Most people know that, within the past couple years, the TSA has enacted new rules regarding liquids in carry-on bags. But how much and what type of liquid have been banned remains a mystery for many. As it happens, you don't have to forgo liquids all together. However, you must make sure that whatever you bring follows the so-called "3-1-1" rule: each container must be no more than 3.4 ounces in size, placed inside a one-quart zip-loc bag, with a limit of one bag per passenger. In other words, if you're really set on bringing your mini-shampoo or travel-sized toothpaste, make sure they're packaged together and correctly to avoid an unnecessary fuss at the security terminal.
1. TSA Pre-Check
However, the absolute best thing you can do to reduce time in airport lines is sign up for TSA Pre-Check, a program designed specifically to reduce the hassle of going through security. Intended for frequent travelers, a visit to your local pre-check facility (there are over 280 center nationwide), plus a one-time fee of $85 dollars will make you eligible for the pre-check program, which includes a special security line (generally less than a third as long as the normal line), minimal TSA screening (a traditional metal-detector rather than a full-body x-ray), and an expedited security process (feel free to keep your laptop and your 3-1-1 liquid bags in your carry-on). In other words, while costly, TSA Pre-check is certain to make all of your security clearances infinitely less painful, a benefit that's well worth the price tag for many frequent travelers.