airportsecuritylineNothing epitomizes the headaches and aggravation of modern air travel more than the security line.

Yes, the Transportation Security Administration’s security theater may be the biggest cause of missed flights and elevated blood pressure, but there are ways to minimize this pain and speed your way through metal detector hell that seasoned travelers are using to get to their flights faster, and you can too. Remember, if you can’t spot the amateur traveler in line, then the amateur traveler is you.


·         Dress the Part: One of my least favorite unavoidable rules when passing through security is removing your belt. There is no greater time suck than taking your belt off and putting it on once you pass through, so I always wear pants that fit well enough so as not to require one (although please, for John and I’s sake, please avoid anything elastic). Wear shoes you can easily slip on and off- I prefer dress loafers when traveling during the week, and car or boat shoes on the weekend. Lastly, make sure you travel with a coat or jacket you easily slip on or off- TSA can and will ask you to take off bulky sweaters when passing through the scanners.

·         Get Strategic: I approach the metal detector with the exact routine I will use to leave security in mind. As such, I load my bags through the metal detector in the exact order that I will pick them up on the other side. For me, that means laptop in bin first, then laptop bag, then roll aboard and finally my personal items in a bin behind. This makes for the quickest possible exit, letting you focus on sprinting to your gate. One quick note- traveling with an iPad or other tablet? That can stay in your laptop bag.

·         Pack Ahead: One of the common amateur moves I see at the airport is people fishing around for their keys, wallet, phone etc. before and after the scanner. My solution? Stash everything in your pockets in your laptop bag while waiting for the TSA agent to check boarding passes. Don’t bother fishing for these items again until you are well away from security at the gate. Remember, seconds saved are seconds earned.

airport·         Ditch the Ziplock: Possibly the least enforced rule at the TSA security check is the “all liquids in a clear bag” rule. As long as you make sure all of your liquids are under 3 ounces (and you can get all of your travel sized toiletries at Bed Bath and Beyond, so really you have no excuse), you will never be flagged by TSA for a baggage inspection. So next time, don’t bother fishing out your shampoo and toothpaste when approaching the scanner- skip the bag and you’ll be fine.

·         Choose Your Line Wisely: Not every flyer has elite statues or pays for a Trusted Traveler Program (look out for posts on both in the future), but you can choose your security line wisely based upon historic annual wait times. Use an iPhone app like TSAWait, which uses historical TSA line and delay data to choose the fastest moving line to navigate security like a pro.

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