We’re just a few short weeks away from Spring Break, and as a traveler, you know what that means:
Everyone is lining up in the TSA lines, trying to rush their way onto their flights, losing their patience and worrying whether they’ll make their flight in time. But you don’t want to be one of those people.
We all want our experience at the TSA checkpoints to go quickly and smoothly — believe me, TSA wants that too. However, that’s not always the case. If you know that, you can prepare. And if you prepare, even just a little bit, you can avoid the stress and hassle of trying to clear a busy TSA checkpoint.
Here are 5 tips to help you get through TSA checkpoint as smoothly as possible.
1. Do some research at home.
One of the worst feelings is when you have an item or two confiscated by the TSA. It can be time consuming and embarrassing, and even a little heart-breaking if it’s something you value.
That’s why it is important to know what TSA will and will not allow to go onto the plane with you. You need to know how many ounces of a liquid, gel, or paste they’ll allow. Whether your nail clippers will pass muster. And whether you can wear a jacket through the scanner or have to run it on a belt.
2. Get to the airport early
No one purposely wants to be late for their flight because, well, they’ll miss it. But no one likes rushing through the airport either, because they can lose something valuable, lose track of time, or lose their kid like the McCallister family in Home Alone 2.
Time is your friend when you use it well. Get to the TSA line early so that you can go through security with more ease and control over everything you have.
Better yet, book the earliest possible flight — say, 6 AM — and make sure you get to the TSA line at least an hour before your flight. That will help you avoid the worst crowds and get through the entire day with the shortest lines.
3. Choose the best line to go throughAs you approach the security checkpoints, start scanning ahead and seeing if there are any that are shorter. Sometimes, in the big mass of people, one of the lines of people is often missed and very few people enter that line.
Also, keep an eye out for lines that are slower-moving. Chances are, there’s a bottleneck ahead, and it will slow that line down for several minutes. Look for one with lots of individuals or couples flying. Those tend to move faster.
Also, be sure to remove your laptop and tablet from your luggage, and don’t put your shoes in the plastic tray. Don’t think you need a tray for everything that rides on the conveyor belt — you only need one for your electronics and belt. Your luggage, shoes, and jacket can go right on the belt, and that will save some room on the belt and speed things up.
4. Keep your luggage moving
It can be easy to be distracted by what is around us. Whether it is your kids vying for your attention, or other travelers causing a ruckus, you’ll want to do your part in moving the line along.
After you make it through the line, grab your stuff off immediately, and move as far to the end of the belt as you can. It keeps the rest of the bags and scanned items moving, and you’ll be doing a favor for the travelers behind you.
5. Get TSA PreCheck
You can avoid most of these hassles if you get TSA PreCheck. This is a pre-screening that takes place way before your flights, and is good for five years after you’re approved. You can go through the special PreCheck line, you don’t have to remove your shoes or have your bag scanned, and you can skip the long TSA lines that everyone else is standing in.
The cost is $85 for five years, which works out to $17 per year. If you only took one round-trip flight per year, that’s $8.50 per flight. Wouldn’t you pay $8.50 to skip standing in line for an hour? If you fly more than one round trip, your cost per flight drops considerably.
How do you keep moving through TSA security quickly? What do you do to avoid delays and standing around? Share your secrets on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.
Photo credit: Melissa Gutierrez (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)