Traveling is, for the most part, awesome. It's always exciting to start a new journey and plan all everything out. One part that can sometimes be very stressful, however, is getting through security checkpoints at the airport. There is no more sinking feeling than arriving to the airport with your digital boarding pass already in hand and not having to check any bags in because you packed super efficiently, and then seeing a giant, amusement park looking line awaiting for you to get through security. Although the line is unpleasant, there are a few things everyone can do to help things move more quickly. Some frequent travelers will already be doing most of these things and many will seem like common sense, but here is a list of six tips that we think can be useful for anyone looking to make their wait in the airport security line a little less unpleasant.
1. Wear a blazer
This won't apply for everyone and it may not even be practical depending on what type of trip you are taking, but if you can, a blazer (a hoodie or other type of jacket could apply here as well, but won't be as cool) is a super useful item to have with you for most flights. In addition to helping you look nicer while traveling, a blazer can provide a way to stay warm on a flight and more importantly (for the purposes of this article) it offers a few extra pockets that you can use to hold everything that you typically carry in your pockets as you go through security. Instead of scrambling to place your phone, wallet, keys, etc. into one of those small plastic bins or just have all of your stuff loose in one of the bigger bins, you can place those items into your blazer and then place your blazer into one of the bins. This will keep everything in one place and then after your blazer goes through the screening you can pick it up on the other side and be ready to go (this will also make tip #6 much easier).
2. Remove belt
This is not always mandatory, but it is always very frustrating when someone gets ready to go through the scanner only for the security agent to tell them they need to remove their belt. This is one of the most common things that people need to remove when they go through security, and even if it is not required, if you are unsure just take it off anyway. It takes almost no effort to take it off and will allow the line to keep moving smoothly instead of having to stop and take it off last minute. Don't be that person.
3. Remove all pocket items early
Many people carry lots of stuff in their pockets. Whether it's a phone, wallet, keys, pens, or loose change there is a lot to manage and it can be easy to lose stuff when you are trying to take everything out in a hurry in an effort to keep the security line moving forward. The best thing to do is not wait until the last possible moment to start emptying out your pockets. There is always time, especially if the line is long, to slowly check all of your pockets and make sure that you have removed everything. If you choose to use tip #1 or if you have a bag with a quick access pocket, simply toss everything in a pocket and you can place your blazer or bag right on the conveyer belt to go through the x-ray. No worrying about extra plastic bins, no worrying about losing anything or about setting off the metal detectors, and, most importantly, no angry looks from security guards or fellow travelers if you have to go back and empty your pockets after you have already gone through the scanner.
4. Leave laptop and liquids easily accessible
Different airports will have different restrictions on what items need to be removed from your bag as you go through security. However, every airport I have traveled through always makes you remove your laptop and liquids bags at the very least. Knowing that I will have to get these things out no matter what we always make sure to leave them in an area of our bag that is very easy to get to. There are some bags that offer a TSA appropriate laptop compartment where it lays flat and you don't have to fully remove the bag. If your bag doesn't have that or the security at the airport you are at is more strict, make sure that the laptop compartment of the bag you are using is easy to access. With regards to the liquids bag, always make sure to leave ti somewhere near the top of your bag or on an outer accessory pocket.
5. Wear shoes that are easy to take on and off
When you travel, a general rule of thumb to make packing easier is to wear your heaviest or bulkiest pair of footwear so that you can save space and weight on your luggage. This makes sense, but if you don't have to take a pair of really heavy shoes you should definitely consider wearing something that is very easy to slip on and off to make your trip through security that much easier. TOMS (we've written a lot about these on the site before), boat shoes, loafers, backless shoes/sandals, or anything without complicated laces or buckles are some good options but there are many more out there and the important thing is to choose something that is easy, but still comfortable and logical for the type of trip you are taking.
6. Don't put everything back on right by security
When you finally make it through the security screening and your bag comes out the other side, it can be tempting to sit down and put your shoes and belt on, as well as return any items to your pockets that you had removed previously. Typically there are many other people trying to do the same in that area and it can be a little chaotic and uncomfortable to get everything done. If you can, simply put your shoes back on, make sure your laptop and liquids are back in your bag, and then wait to put everything else on until you get to your gate where you can calmly sit down and make sure you don't lose anything while you are getting everything together again.
Bonus: Arrive EARLY
There are some people that are perfectly fine rolling into the airport an hour before their flight is supposed to depart, but there is no feeling more horrifying than being close on time, getting to the airport and seeing a huge line at security. It may seem a little annoying to get through earlier and have to sit at the gate, but its better to watch Netflix, read a book, or take a nap than to be freaking out in line or possibly missing your flight.
In an ideal world, everyone would naturally do some or even all of these things. If that was the case, the TSA line would always move much quicker than it does. And while that may never happen, even if you do some of these things just for yourself and the people you are traveling with, your experience passing through security will go much more smoothly.
Did we miss anything? What are your favorite hacks for breezing through TSA?