A Primer on Navigating Airport Security Quickly


In every airport, you will find a Transportation Security Administration’s screening checkpoint, the bane of anyone running late for his or her flight. At best, the security process involves a short line and a quick walk through the metal detector; at worst, it can include waiting while agents unpack and repack your carry-on bags, or having items confiscated. Fortunately, as experienced travelers quickly learn, using a bit of finesse in packing and learning the TSA’s rules can make the process relatively painless.

To speed up the screening process, it’s important to start at home. First, visit www.tsa.gov to familiarize yourself with the rules if you haven’t flown recently. Nursing mothers and those living with disabilities, as well as other people who may qualify for certain exemptions or special attention, will want to check on special rules that apply to them. The next step is to pack intelligently. Consider packing everything in modular cubes or plastic bags, so that you can easily pack and unpack them should the need arise. To save even more time, it helps to dress strategically. Avoid heavy metal belt buckles or other things that might cause detectors to ping, and wear shoes that you can swiftly slip on and off.

Those interested in obtaining a further edge, especially those who prefer traveling with a full complement of electronic devices, may want to look into TSA-friendly laptop cases, which eliminate the need to remove laptops or other heavy devices before sending them through an X-ray machine. The fastest solution, of course, is to join the TSA Pre✓ program, which allows “Trusted Travelers” to use expedited lanes. Whatever you decide to do, remember to be polite. Being rude to the agents on duty is a surefire way to experience delays, if not detainment.

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