5 tips for breezing through airport security lines

Going through airport security can be a nightmare. I once sat through a fire alarm at an airport where nobody budged. Everyone had reached a silent consensus that going through airport security again would be worse than fire.


As a seasoned traveler, though, I’ve found I can usually get from the curbside to the departure gate in less than ten minutes. Here are five tips to help you do the same:

  1. Get TSA pre-check

TSA pre-check lines allow passengers to go through without taking off their shoes or removing electronics from their baggage. Airlines sometimes randomly assign passengers to the pre-check line based on their flight history, but one way to guarantee access to the pre-check line is to apply for the Global Entry program. The cost is $100, but Global Entry lasts five years.

  1. Check in ahead of time

Check in online to avoid hitting the kiosk at the airport. While it takes the same amount of time to go through the check-in process online as it does at the airport, you get to save the time waiting in line for other people to do the same.

  1. Pack appropriately

Pack your laptop in a location that’s easily retrievable if you’re not getting into the TSA pre-check line. Similarly, liquids should be placed in a pouch that can easily be accessed. Try to pack liquids into smaller containers so that you don’t have to check baggage specifically to transport toiletries. Checking baggage wastes time at the counter as well as in baggage claim.

  1. Prepare your belongings

You’ll have to empty your pockets to go through the airport scanners. However, you don’t have to have anything in your pockets at all. Your wallet, phone and keys can be placed in your laptop bag or handbag, and you can avoid removing those items before entering the scanner and re-pocketing those items afterward.

  1. Get in the right lines

You might already be trying to get into the shortest line. When faced with an option to go one of several directions, though, take a moment to evaluate which line would actually be the quickest—sometimes lines can be deceptive because while some lines seem further along because more space exists, the baggage scanner or agent that checks your ticket might be located farther ahead. Make sure to evaluate the number of people in line. Furthermore, many times the number of pieces of baggage ahead of you matters more than the number of people in line. The bottleneck at the airport baggage scanner is typically the baggage conveyer belt. Finally, the rate at which a line moves matters in addition to the size of the line. Some agents check your ticket and identification faster than others, and sometimes lines can split into two—this doubles the rate the line moves compared to a line that funnels into only one baggage conveyer belt.

Master these tricks, and you’ll be breezing your way through airport lines in no time. The best part is that many of these tricks are not zero-sum games. The faster you can get your baggage through security, the faster the person behind you can get to her destination.

Getting through security faster not only allows you to save time, but also it makes the experience much less frustrating. For travelers taking a clever layover, going through airport security can sometimes be required at the layover location as well. Following these tricks will allow you to quickly get through the process and fully enjoy the hundreds of dollars in savings you’ve achieved on the ticket price of your flight. Check out to learn more about buying cheap flights that allow light packers to take advantage of huge savings using enjoyable layover destinations!