Navigating the Airport: Five Tips to Sail through Security

By Jessica Larkin

The travel industry is growing at breakneck pace, and as a result, so are airport lines. Although this growth is great for the economy, business travelers tend to view this uptick as a negative because it often means more time spent clearing security, resulting in less time to work. In this post we’ll focus on five tips to breeze through security with ease. For the seasoned business traveler, some of these will likely be part of your airport routine. However, keep in mind that airport policies change and traveler frequency varies.

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

Airport checkpoints such as security and customs (for international itineraries) is an obvious pain point for travelers, regardless if the trip is for business, leisure, or bleisure. Fortunately, there are programs that can expedite your time spent getting through security, and eliminate the need to take off your shoes and remove electronics from your bag.

TSA PreCheck is ideal for U.S. travelers as it provides a shorter line, and expedited screening. There are 200 participating U.S. airports and the cost is $85 for a five year pass.

As noted by cnet.com, “With more than 7 million members, TSA PreCheck is the most popular of the expedited airport security programs. It’s run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and lets you use a special TSA PreCheck line at the airport instead of fighting your way through the main security checkpoint with everyone else.”

For those that travel abroad, Global Entry is the way to go. It is the international version of TSA PreCheck and covers air, land, or sea transportation. Global Entry is managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and streamlines the customs process when returning to the U.S. In addition to the benefits of TSA PreCheck, it also enables travelers to skip the in-person interview with a customs agent and utilize a self-service kiosk. From a cost perspective, if you are traveling both domestically and internationally, Global Entry costs is $100 for five years and the fee includes TSA PreCheck benefits.

Have Your Documents Ready

Few things are more annoying than being stuck in line behind a traveler that is fumbling for their license and boarding pass–especially if they’ve spent the last 20 minutes waiting in line with plenty of time to have essential documentation ready-to-go. Experienced travelers know that having identification and boarding passes in-hand is one of the easiest ways to expedite the time spent in the TSA queue. If you’re using your passport, open it to the page with your photo and information. Have your printed boarding pass ready to give to the agent, and if using the mobile option, have your boarding pass and barcode front and center on your phone screen.

Think About Your Travel Attire

Layers of clothing, big jewelry, belts, the contents of your pockets, shoes…before you head to the airport, think about everything you will need to remove prior to passing through security.

To increase efficiency, avoid footwear that requires laces, zippers, or buckles, and wear a pair that easily slides on and off. As you get closer to the checkpoint, remove outer layers and necessary accessories, such as jackets, blazers, sweatshirts, and belts, avoid wearing large jewelry, and empty the contents of your pockets into your carry-on. In addition to saving you time, it will also help the lines move faster, accelerating the wait for others.

Consider the Contents of Your Carry-On

TSA screens approximately 4.9 million carry-on bags for explosives and other dangerous items daily. It’s best to keep your carry-on organized, and for items that you’ll access frequently such as travel documents or electronics, make sure they are not in the bottom of your bag. We’re not saying you need to fold everything perfectly, but jam-packed carry-ons can cause unnecessary grief at airport security.

Know in Advance What to Place in the Bin

In addition to anything in your pockets, laptops, tablets, and e-readers, be sure to pack any liquids, gels, or aerosols toward the top of your carry-on so that they can be easily placed in the bin at airport security. TSA has a 3-1-1 rule for these types of items. What this means is that any liquid, gel, or aerosol must be in a container that is 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less.The items must be placed in a clear plastic quart-sized bag, of which each traveler is limited to one. In addition to toiletries, this also applies to food items.

It’s perfectly acceptable to bring a water bottle with you, no matter the size, provided it’s empty. Once through security, fill up the bottle at a drinking fountain. This is a great way to save money and stay hydrated.

Make Security a Breeze

Let’s face it, time spent at the airport is a major downside of business travel. We hope the tips included in this post provided valuable information that will save you time and make security a breeze on your next business trip. We also recommend passing this along to folks in your network–regardless of their reason for travel. It may help speed-up lines down the road by providing useful trips for the novice traveler. Safe travels!

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