Top 5 Tips for Getting Thru TSA Security Quickly When You Fly
If I had to distill into one line the essence of (what I’ve learned about) getting through TSA security checks handily, it would be this: To make your experience smooth and swift, make the TSA officers’ jobs routine and uncomplicated.
Depending upon your personality or position in life, that concept may not sit well. Get over it – it’s worth the no-hassle. Here are the top four things to keep in mind to make your check point experience smooth, and yes, maybe even pleasant.
1. Educate yourself ahead of time using information from airline, TSA, and airport websites. TSA http://www.tsa.gov/ has a lot of helpful information and a nicely organized Traveler Information section which answers all your questions about prohibited items, screening processes, etc. They even have a downloadable mobile app with most of the same information and additional aids such as up to the minute airport security wait times, airport statuses, and more. Your airline and airport websites will have most of the same information as well as additional considerations for the local area or airline in particular.
2. Think as you pack. Traveling light is only part of the issue. It’s hugely beneficial to pack in an organized fashion with individual items easily visible, distinguishable, or at the very least easily accessible. A jumbled heap of power cords, stray toiletries, and scattered shoes crammed into a carry-on is practically a plea to the TSA security agent to open, unpack, and inspect. Instead, group like items together and arrange other items in a way that allows easy identification on a scanner. Using TSA security guidelines from their website, have ready at the ‘top’ of your bag(s) the items that need to be packaged separately and/or scanned individually (e.g. liquids, personal electronics)
3. Dress appropriately. Yes indeed, that old adage never seems to leave you. Choose your travel wardrobe knowing you will need to remove shoes, jacket(s), belt(s), and any ‘wearable’ personal electronics. Avoid articles that have extensive metalwork (e.g numerous zippers or inlays). Wear shoes that you can shed and don easily. Minimize your electronic and apparel accessories so you’re not standing around the checkpoint re-attaching everything after you exit. Additionally, empty your pockets or otherwise remove for separate screening any money, keys, heavy jewelry, etc. This nearly always obviates the need for additional screening after you exit the walk-through checkpoint.
4. Be nice to the TSA Staff. This is perhaps the most important consideration but admittedly the details of what I suggest can come across as unnecessary, even ludicrous to some. It is not the TSA agents’ job to be friendly to you. But when you give them your full attention, cooperation, and respect for the necessity of their role it will go a long way toward getting through checkpoints without time consuming, or otherwise unpleasant incidents.
- Pay attention to what’s going on in front of you. You’re likely standing in line with not much else to do so take the time to observe what others ahead of you are doing and prepare yourself for the same.
- Look to the TSA security agent for guidance. If you’re unclear about something, ask and listen openly. A ‘Thank you’ and a smile is always appreciated.
- Try not to bristle at questions and of course avoid comments and gestures that communicate impatience or indignation. Belligerence will not be tolerated. It will only serve to raise the suspicions of agents and the ire of your fellow travelers resulting in delays and possibly even missing departures.
5. Sign up for the TSA Pre-Check program. TSA Pre✓™ allows select frequent flyers to receive expedited screening benefits at airport security checkpoints. Dedicated screening lanes are set aside for expedited screening which includes leaving on shoes, light outerwear and belts, as well as leaving laptops and 3-1-1 compliant liquids in carry-on bags. The program is not available at all airports or even for all air carriers but visit http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck to find out if you’re eligible and how to sign-up.
Of course, if you want to avoid all of this, simply give Aut-Air a call.