7 Ways to Get Through Security Faster

Whether you’re heading off on summer vacation or making travel plans for Thanksgiving, the following simple strategies will save you time. And time is money, right?

LISTEN: Rick’s been zipping through security for ages and says you can too.

7 Ways to Breeze through Security

1. Join the club: Pay a little, get a lot.

  • PreCheck: This program costs $85 for five years and is perfect for domestic travelers who want to enter security through a dedicated lane (where available), keep shoes and jackets on, and go through the metal detector. Learn more and sign-up here.
  • Global Entry: This program costs $100 for five years and is tailored to the international traveler. Learn more and sign-up here.

2. Know the TSA no-nos: It takes just a minute to review the TSA rules, but the important one is no liquids in containers bigger than 3.4 ounces. If you bring a bottle of water or economy-size shampoo through the security checkpoint, it will get dumped. Use small containers or pack big liquids in checked-bags.

3. Pack neatly: Messy charger cords and ear buds might not look suspicious but – they might – and who wants an unnecessary delay if a TSA agent has to open up your bag to be sure? Wrap cords and wires neatly and keep them together with a clip or rubber band.

4. Watch valuables: Do not pack electronics in checked-bags. Keep them on your person or in a carry-on. Note: Sometimes, if bins are small, carry-ons can be taken from passengers at the gate; if this happens to you, remove valuables and stick them in a pocket. Leave other valuables like expensive or irreplaceable jewelry at home.

5. Check for wait-times before entering the airport: The TSA has an app that tells you how long security lines are at various terminals (and there are others). If you see crowds everywhere, leave for the airport extra early.

6. Check out ‘special assistance’ options ahead of time: If you or one of your travel party needs extra help getting through security due to a medical condition, contact TSA Cares at least 24 hours before you arrive at the airport.

7. Don’t get angry: Sometimes stuff happens but raising your voice usually won’t help. The old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease doesn’t seem to fly at most airports and look at it this way: Who would you rather help, the passenger screaming at you or the person who is calming explaining his/her problem?

Final note: Don’t go through security twice, which could happen if you bag is the wrong size or weight and you’re sent all the way back to the airline counter to check it. Most airlines have specific carry-on bag size allowances (and sometime weight limits) and knowing this could save some headaches.

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Published: June 26, 2014