Move Through TSA Security Faster With These Hacks Gallery

There are plenty of things TSA agents won't tell you, but what you should already know is that they want you to get through security as fast as possible, too. There are many things you can do to make the security screening process as quick and stress-free as possible for yourself, your fellow passengers, and airport security. 

Some things may be obvious like staying up to date with the TSA's ever-changing regulations and making sure you know exactly what you can or can't bring through security. Don't try to sneak through weird things like bags of fish or a human skull, and follow all of airport security's instructions. Even with these guidelines, however, airports can get crowded and the lines very long. Luckily for you, we have some hacks that can help you move through TSA security faster.

Be Polite and Friendly

We should all try to be more polite, but with airport security, this is even more important. If dealing with the TSA stresses you out, try not to let it show. You can also admit to an agent that you're nervous, as they're more likely to find you less suspicious and even reassure you. Passengers that seem stressed or nervous or are being loud or rude are more likely to be questioned or given extra screening.

Become a Trusted Traveler

Expedited airport security programs are like a deus ex machina for the dilemma that is TSA security. TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are two government-run programs that allow you to get through lines quicker. All you have to do is submit an application to receive a background check that will determine whether you're a low-risk "Trusted Traveler." For $85 with TSA PreCheck and $100 with Global Entry, you'll have a five-year pass to get into a shorter security line with other pre-approved passengers and won't be required to take off your shoes, belt, or jacket or take your laptop and liquids out of your bag.

Another option is CLEAR, a third-party program available at over 30 airports and stadiums that saves you having to go through the ID check. Just go to the CLEARlane, scan your boarding pass as well as your fingerprint, and a CLEAR employee will take you straight to the screening line. To enroll, you have to apply online with a fee of $179 per year and then go in-person to one of CLEAR's locations to verify your identity. (You can also combine CLEAR with TSA PreCheck so that you get through the security line faster.)

Become an Elite Member

Having an elite membership with an airline can not only help you save money on flight tickets, but it can also help you get priority in security lines. Most airlines offer this benefit to passengers with a higher member status, and they can usually bring their traveling companions with them too.

Buy a TSA-Approved Laptop Bag

There are all kinds of cool travel accessories that you can buy to make your trip easier, but one of the most practical things you can get is a TSA-approved laptop bag. With these bags, you aren't required to take the extra step of removing your laptop from your carry-on and putting it in a separate bin. You can just place the bag on the conveyor belt to go through the scanner.

Check In Online

If possible, every traveler should download the app for the airline they're flying with. Most airlines will also allow you to use the app to check in online and even have your boarding pass available on your phone. You can also check in on their website and print out your boarding pass for yourself. This means you can skip the whole check-in process and just drop any luggage you may have to be checked in at the counter. Some airports even have separate lines for bag drop-off so that you can avoid the check-in line completely.

Check Your Bag

Due to checked bag fees becoming standard on most airlines, more passengers have been utilizing carry-ons and therefore slowing down security lines. Consider just paying the fee to check all your luggage so that you can avoid having to put it through the security scanner or, even more frustrating, having it selected for extra screening. You should also check your credit card benefits to see whether yours offers free checked baggage.

Don’t Have Anything in Your Pockets

One of the first things you have to do when reaching the front of the screening line is to empty your pockets into a bin to go through the scanner — unless you don't have anything in them at all. If you did bring a carry-on, just put things like your cell phone and wallet in a pocket that you can easily reach after you're done with security. You can also make things easier by just keeping all your usual pocket essentials in the pockets of your jacket (especially if it's the trendy SCOTTeVEST), as you have to take the jacket off anyway.

Fly at Odd Times

Avoid long lines by avoiding peak flying times — book a flight that's during off hours: very early in the morning or late at night, except for late Sunday night or early Monday morning in a metropolitan city. This will not only help you save on airfare, but it'll also help you really expedite your security screening process, as the line will be extremely short, if not nonexistent.

Keep Your Travel Documents on Hand

When getting in line for the ID check, have your physical boarding pass in hand or your phone with the boarding pass pulled up on the screen. Also make sure to have proper ID, such as your driver's license or passport (which you should make sure is good for three to six months after your return date if you're traveling internationally). If you can't hold them in your hand, keep them in an easily accessible pocket of your carry-on or jacket.

Pack Your Liquids Last

One of the most important rules you should know about what you can take through airport security is the 3-1-1 rule. Current TSA regulations state that any liquids, aerosols, creams, gels, and pastes should be limited to containers that are 3.4 ounces or less. These should fit into a single quart-sized, clear plastic bag that you are required to remove from your carry-on for screening. You should, therefore, pack this bag last so that you can easily pull it out when it's your turn to go through security.

Pick the Right Line

If you don't have the privilege of being a trusted traveler or elite member, you can still try your best to get in one of the faster moving lines. If a security agent isn't telling you which specific line to get in, you should try looking for lines that are shorter or have more business travelers than families, particularly families with strollers. Another tip is to go to the lines on your left, as most people tend to turn right.

Take Any Outer Layers Off Before It’s Your Turn

If you're traveling to or from a colder destination, don't wait until you get to the front of the screening line to take off your sweater or jacket. Take your jacket off as soon as you get in line for ID check or even once you're inside the airport. This way no one has to wait for you to pull your sweater over your head or undo all your buttons, and you'll get through security faster.

Track Wait Times With an App

Don't make the mistake of not taking advantage of the many travel apps at your disposal. Stay ahead of the game by checking wait times both before you book and before you leave home to catch your flight. The TSA's app, MyTSA as well as apps like MiFlight and Terminal Buddy can keep you updated on estimated security wait times, so that you can have a better idea of when you should get to the airport.

Wear Slip-On Shoes

Pack your shoes that are a bit more "involved" in terms of putting them on, and instead wear comfortable shoes that you can easily take on and off so that you're not holding up the line fumbling with laces or zippers. To be even more proactive, it's also alright to take your shoes off as soon as you're done with the ID check and are in line for screening. We also highly recommend that you wear some socks.

Wear Something Without a Belt

You should always dress comfortably in order to survive a long flight, but it's also advantageous to do so at the security line. In order to avoid having to take off your belt and then put it back on, go for some nice sweatpants, joggers, or well-fitted slacks when picking your travel outfit, or go without pants entirely and wear a dress. You should also make sure you're dressed properly for your destination; after all, you don't want to do anything that will make you seem like that tourist.

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