Wanna breeze through airport security lines? Yeah, us too. Follow these 10 steps and you'll avoid the DMV-like torture of TSA checkpoints.
Airport security in the United States is stress-inducing 99.9% of the time. Why? It's time-wasting, often inefficient; full of confused travelers and frustrated TSA agents. Until we rise to the level of efficiency that most nations have mastered in Airport Security, here are 10 tips to save you a headache while traveling in (or out of) the USA.
1) Don't Fumble.
Have your boarding pass and photo ID in hand when you walk up to Security. Nothing will match the discomfort you feel with dozens of tired, stressed out eyes burning into the back of your neck while you rummage for your ID. Passport required for International flights, Driver's License is find for Domestic. Bonus points if your boarding pass is digital in your smartphone!
2) IF YOU CAN CHOOSE A LINE, CHOOSE THE ONE WITH THE MOST SUITS AND THE FEWEST KIDS.
Those who travel in suits are veterans of the airport-security-dance and generally business professionals (the rest of us live in sweatpants). They move silently and swiftly. While we can all acknowledge kids are cuter, they are also the slowest, loudest, and most freaked out by being forced to stand in one place with a bunch of strangers. Follow the suits.
3) Don't be an 'that guy'.
If you did everything in your power to avoid families with little ones but ended up behind them anyway, be nice. Don't throw shade at the mom struggling to keep her wiggling toddler under control in TSA lines. I mean, we grown-ups are JUST as pissed off about the security line process, so how can you blame the tiny human? Be patient.
4) SHOES UN-TIED AND JACKET OFF BEFORE YOU GET TO THE FRONT OF THE LINE.
When you get to the conveyor belt, but your luggage + bag/purse on the belt first. Be sure you already took the clear plastic bag of liquids out of it before you send it on it's way! Grab (2) bins, (3) if you also brought a laptop.
5) PUT THIS STUFF IN THESE BINS, RAPID FIRE:
Laptop. Must be in its own bin, out of its case. Tablets can stay in the bag.
Liquids. TSA approves (1) Quart size, clear plastic baggie of Liquids per person. If you bring more, it has to go in a checked bag (which you would have already checked in before getting into security line, womp womp). These containers have to be less than 3.4 oz (100 mL). They are not fucking around, they will throw out your full-size bottle of shampoo.
Shoes. Here's hoping you wore socks today, or you're about to walk barefoot where hundreds of thousands of other people have.
Watch. Belt. Any accessory heavier than the weight of a coin. In other words, pack statement necklace / door-knocker hoop earrings in suitcase pre-airport.
Bag (if it's too small to survive on it's own on the conveyor belt) Wait, why is your purse so tiny when traveling again?
Phone. Anything in your pockets. Throw your boarding pass and ID in the bin if it's still in your hands.
6) STAY WITH YOUR STUFF ON THE CONVEYOR BELT UNTIL IT MOVES THRU THE X-RAY, THEN STEP IN LINE TO BE X-RAYED YOURSELF.
Most US airports now have a science fiction contraption from the future that requires you to stand like you're the letter "A" of the Y-M-C-A dance (if you've been to a wedding with a boring D.J., you know) while it takes a quick X-ray of you. Not dangerous, but weird.
7) AFTER PASSING THRU THE X-RAY, DON’T USE THE END OF THE CONVEYOR BELT AS YOUR DRESSING ROOM.
It's stressful for you + shitty for the people behind you (remember the eyes burning the back of your head?) Every airport has benches just past the conveyor belts. Sit there instead!
8) If you need a sharp object, it better be packed in your checked bag.
We all know not to bring a sword through security, but there are a few things that will get your bag searched you may not expect. Nail files, scissors, deodorant and lip balm (if not in quart sized plastic baggie), aerosol hairspray, metal credit cards, etc. Also watch for solids-to-liquids inside your carry-on suitcase including candles, balm, coconut oil, foods like peanut butter...you get it.
9) DON’T FREAK OUT IF SECURITY THROWS AWAY YOUR $24 BOTTLE OF SHAMPOO FROM SEPHORA.
You can get it again. Plus, you knew better, right? You will be able to wash your hair in every country you travel to. Don't piss off TSA agents and risk missing your flight. Be nice to everyone - TSA agents, people in line...managing 1000's of people is not easy, and traveling can be stressful. You won't be stressed (you're prepared!) but a little smile goes a long way.
P.S. Sephora has carry-on sizes of TONS of products!
10) ALL THE BONUS POINTS if you sign up for Pre-Check.
There is this magical thing called TSA Pre-Check. If you're a US citizen, all you do is fill out an application online, appear at an enrollment center for ID verification and fingerprinting, pay $85.00 for a (5) year membership...and you immediately skip the entire security line. It's like having a special pass to cut the in front of everyone waiting 2 hrs to ride the roller coaster. That's right; a background check and a little cash go a long way with government agencies. There are several programs: TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI. Each have slightly different requirements. All save you a huge headache.