Airport security is not my favorite part of travel. Everything but. I hate it. Not necessarily the fact that there is airport security – more that queues are highly unpredictable and that the airport security experience is highly inconsistent between airports (or sometimes even within a single airport). So here are my tips to get through airport security faster. 

Go elite to get through airport security faster

The easiest way to get through airport security faster is by being a big spender. Either by flying so much you’re an elite level passenger with the airline you’re flying or by buying a premium class (business or first-class) ticket:

Elite status

Delta Sky Club at New York JFK airport
Delta Sky Club at New York JFK airport

Probably the biggest time saver is elite status at the airline you’re flying. Most airlines allow at least their mid-tier and high-tier elites (e.g. Gold and Platinum with Flying Blue) to access the priority security lines, so you can join first-class passengers at security even if you’re not flying up front. This benefit is usually extended to any companions traveling with the elite member (although this is sometimes a bit unclear), so it can’t hurt to try and bring them along with you.

Go premium class

Other than flying in a premium class giving you an enhanced in-flight experience, you’ll also be whisked away to your business or first-class seat faster just for having that ticket. Along with specific elite members with the airlines mentioned above, premium-class passengers are also entitled to expedited security lane access.

But even with Sky Priority or a business class ticket, from time to time you’ll be queueing. So, what can you do to get through airport security faster?

Pack smarter to get through airport security faster

One of the key things to do is pack smarter. And I’m not talking about not packing large bottles of liquids

Things to avoid while packing

  • You’ll probably know the drill by now. Throw away any plastic bottles with liquid in them and make sure to empty your reusable bottle before going through the security line. And there are some other obvious and less obvious things you can’t pack.
  • Avoid large amounts of cables clustered together and especially do not pack them in a box-shape. This looks super suspicious under the scanner (I know, I got extra checks several times). 

Things you can do while packing

  • Make sure you pack your liquids and gels together so you can easily get them out. 
  • Any liquids in your carry-on bag are in a clear plastic bag (you can read the rules for the TSA’s 3-1-1 policy here), so make sure your toilet bag is see-through.
  • When you’re taking hand luggage with you – be sure you have easy access to your toilet bag. Do not stow it under a pile of dirty laundry or shirts.
  • Stow away your dirty laundry in a bag – something that prevents your handluggage from having all your dirty laundry being spillt all over the security check desk. 
  • Make sure you have easy access to your laptop and/or iPad (as you will have to take them out).

Dress smarter to get through airport security faster

Use common sense when you’re picking out your airport attire. And note that you don’t have to take all of your jewelry off — many passengers leave watches on and don’t have problems when going through the metal detector.

Things to avoid

  • Avoid wearing a belt – you are certain to have to take it off.
  • Avoid wearing hiking shoes or other heavy duty shoes – the few times I got pulled over, was because of this. 

Things to do

  • Wear a jacket with big pockets so that after passing through security you can quickly throw your phone, wallet, and passport in a pocket before grabbing the rest of your belongings.
  • Wear shoes that you can quickly remove and then put back on.
  • Wearing business casual or just casual – you’ll blend in with the other business travelers.

Know how to behave at airport security

Things to do

  • Pay attention to what the personnel is saying. 
  • Look the security personnel in the eyes (I learned from my friend Jean Philip that this is a typical traveler’s tribe thingy) .
  • Cover your valuables (phone, keys, wallet) with your jacket (so others can’t ‘borrow’ your stuff). 
  • When you’re through the metal detectors, collect your belongings from the belt as quickly as possible and reassemble yourself away from the screening area. The quicker you take your belongings off the belt, the quicker everyone else can move through the line.
  • Be sure to have your boarding pass easily accessible in case you have to show it. 

Things to avoid

  • Don’t call while going through security check. 

Not so much – check your bag

In my experience, check in luggage hardly ever saves you time. Yes, you’ll get through security faster (also see my tip for free check-in luggage), but you’ll lose time waiting for your luggage (even worse when your luggage gets lost). 

To conclude

Airport security never will be the best part of travel, but you do have a part of speed and convenience in your own hands. So use the tips above to get through airport security faster next time you’re traveling. 

Got tips to get through airport security faster? Let me know!

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