Best Tips for Faster, Easier Airport Security

Published by Rick Seaney on September 23, 2019

Line at security

Faster, easier airport security

Sometimes finding a good flight deal is a lot easier than navigating airport security. The long lines, having to remove your shoes, maybe even getting a pat-down by TSA officers, it’s all pretty annoying but the worst part is how long it takes. Let’s speed things up with our best tips for a faster, easier airport security experience.

Arrive early

Arrive at airport early. Give yourself plenty of time to get through the security line so you won’t have to run to the gate (or miss your flight altogether). Remember, security lines especially long during peak travel periods like summer, Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), and Christmas/New Year’s. These are general arrival guidelines from several airlines:

Domestic flights: Arrive 2 hours early
International flights: Arrive 3 hours early

Tip: Add a few minutes more, just in case of heavy traffic and crowded parking lots.

Security rules

If you want faster, easier airport security, know the rules. The following guidelines are from the TSA and apply to domestic U.S. travelers.

Liquids: No liquids in containers larger than 3.4 ounces.
Electronics: Most travelers must remove laptops from cases.
Declutter: Keep cords neatly wrapped so X-ray machines have a clear view of your bag’s interior.
No weapons: No guns or knives in carry-ons, real or replicas.
Shoes off: Remove shoes for the screening process.
No jokes: No jokes about bombs. You will be detained.

Need extra help at security because of medical issues or other problems? Call the TSA Cares line (855) 787-2227 for assistance.

Rules outside the U.S.

Rules and regulations vary from country to country, so please check out the following sites for more information. If a nation isn’t listed, search ‘airport security’ and country name; airline and airport websites often have security information, too.

U.S.: Information on passports, conditions in other countries
Australia: Includes packing and screening advice
Canada: Everything from passenger rights to traveling with pets
European Union: Includes additional links to several countries
Mexico: General information plus links to popular airports

Join PreCheck

Join PreCheck: For travelers on U.S. flights, we recommend joining the TSA PreCheck program. It’s a faster security experience and this step-by-step PreCheck guide makes sign-up easy. The cost is $85 but that’s good for a five-year membership and is truly money well-spent.

Do you live elsewhere? The Points Guy has put together a list of programs in other countries that are similar to PreCheck; you can view them here.

One more tip: Be patient. Sometimes security takes longer than normal but console yourself with the thought you’re about to embark on a wonderful trip.

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