How To Get Through Airport Security Faster: Zipping Past The Queues

Now that Covid-19 is over, everyone is eager to travel this summer, whether it's for relaxation or to discover new places. As a result, air travel is bustling during this season.

After preparing and arriving on time, the only thing standing between you and your amazing experience is the general security line. And let's face it, no one enjoys waiting in long lines. Have you ever wondered how to get through airport security faster?

Don't worry, we are here to help you save time and reduce stress with our super simple strategies. With a few simple steps, accessible to all, your dream destination is just a few less hours away.

1. Pack Smartly: Minimise Metal & Liquids

When preparing your luggage, make sure to follow the TSA rules, including the 3-1-1 liquids rule, and you must wrap or place your food in a container. Certain items, such as weapons, explosives, and flammable items, are prohibited from being carried onto a plane.

Pack your laptop and liquid in a way that it is easily accessible and removable. Front pocket or at the top of your luggage are ideal positions.  Consider using packing cubes or compression bags to maximise space in your luggage. These help you keep your items organised and easily accessible, so you don't have to dig through your entire suitcase.

2. Arrive Early, But Smartly

During peak travel times, security lines can be long and slow-moving.  Arriving early at the airport gives you more time to go through security. However, consider choosing less busy travel times if possible, such as mid-week or early morning flights when queues tend to be shorter.

You can also make sure that your carry-on bags are properly packed, your liquids and electronics are easily accessible, and you have removed any prohibited items from your bags. Additionally, clear your pockets of anything unnecessary, such as gum wrappers, coins, lip palms, etc.

How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

Arriving early gives you more time to prepare for security screening. Photo by Shutter2U on stock.adobe.com

To make the most of your early arrival time, consider using apps that provide real-time updates on security wait times. You can also check the official website of the airport you are travelling from for security wait time information.

Here is the list of must-known apps to get through airport security faster:

  • The carrier’s app
  • MiFlight
  • App in the Air
  • Kayak
  • MyTSA.

3. Dress For Success

Dressing appropriately for airport security can help you move more quickly through checkpoints and reduce stress. When you are near the screening, you don’t want to keep your hoodies on, scarf around your neck, etc. You will be asked to remove them; why not do so early to save some time?

We highly recommend shoes without laces, buckles, or steel toes to further expedite the shoe removal process. Ballet flats for women and slip-on loafers for men are excellent choices, as they are comfortable and easy to slip on and off.

In addition, consider wearing clothing that is easy to remove and won't trigger the metal detectors. Avoid wearing belts with large buckles or jewellery that may set off the metal detectors. Instead, opt for comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that is easy to wear and take off.

CabinZero tips: Wear socks. You don’t want to tread where thousands pass a day bare feet.

4. Take Advantage Of TSA Precheck

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offers a program called TSA Precheck that allows pre-approved travellers to breeze through airport security. It is now available at over 200 airports in the U.S. and more than 85 airlines nationwide. Due to the program's restricted nature, no foreign airports are included.

According to the TSA, members can typically expect to spend less than five minutes in security lines, compared to the average wait time of 20 minutes or more for standard security lines.

How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

With TSA Precheck, you can significantly reduce the time you spend in security lines. Photo by tsa.go/precheck

Enrolling in TSA Precheck lets you keep your shoes, belts, and light jackets on and leave your laptops and compliant liquids in your carry-on bags. You don't have to worry about taking off and putting back on your shoes or removing your laptop from your bag.

There is also one crucial note to remember. If you have TSA PreCheck, your children under 12 can use the line without registering. However, 13–17-year-olds can accompany you but may be subject to ordinary screening.

The program is available at participating airports all over the United States. To apply for TSA Precheck, you need to complete an online application, schedule an appointment for a background check, and pay a $78 application fee. Once approved, your membership is valid for five years.

However, we recommend using NEXUS if you frequently cross the Canadian or Mexican border. It is a joint program between the United States and Canada that provides members with dedicated lanes when crossing the border by land, air, or sea. Moreover, NEXUS members are eligible for TSA PreCheck when flying out of participating airports in both countries.

5. Global Entry Is US Travellers’ Best Friend

For frequent international travellers, Global Entry is an excellent way to get through airport security faster. This program allows you to expedite your entry into the United States by land, sea or air, using automated kiosks instead of waiting in long immigration lines.

You can check if an airport is equipped with Global Entry kiosks by visiting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. If you're flying, you can also ask the airline or the airport if they accept Global Entry.

How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

Global Entry benefits you both when you are departing and arriving. Photo by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Global Entry provides the benefits of TSA Precheck. To enrol in this program, you need to complete an online application, pay a $100 non-refundable fee, and undergo an in-person interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer. Therefore, Global Entry members are considered to be low-risk fliers after undergoing a comprehensive background check and personal interview.

6. Get Clear

Clear is a biometric screening program that offers a frictionless experience at security checkpoints. With Clear, you can bypass the ID check and physical boarding pass scan at participating airports.

Your identity is verified using your fingerprints or a quick eye scan, allowing you to get through security lines faster and reduce the time you spend at the airport. Therefore, you can keep your ticket or boarding pass in your pocket and not worry about losing it.

How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

Clear is now available in 51 airports across the U.S. Photo by clearme.com

But that's not all - if you frequently go to concerts or sporting events, you'll be pleased to know that many stadiums now use CLEAR's services as a replacement for traditional ID checks, making it possible to skip those lines too. For event entry, there's a free app-based version of CLEAR that you can use.

You can sign up for Clear either online or in person at select airports. If you have already started the enrollment procedure but need to create your biometric profile in person, you can do it at a Clear enrollment centre. Then, you will need to pay $189 annually for a standard membership. 

Note: However, this program is only for individuals who are 18 years or older and either U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. 

7. Book A Spot In Line

With Clear's Reserve a Spot feature, members can choose a specific time slot and location for regular security screening in 19 airports in the world. More than that, you can even book a spot in line if you are travelling together with a group of 9 people. 

Most importantly, each reservation still requires your ID and is only held in a 20-minute window. Therefore, ensure your group arrives on time so people can keep moving. 

How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

You can simply check whether your airport is supported by this program. Photo by clearme.com

The best part? This program is free and available for everyone, even if you are not a CLEAR member. All you need to do is head to the CLEAR website, go to the Reserve page, and select your airport. After filling in the application with your information and fellow travellers’, you will receive a QR code for confirmation. 

Several airports also let interested passengers book TSA appointments in advance via Cheapism, as long as you reserve a space online 72 hours before the departure. Note that travellers must still queue up in their allocated order at the airport.

Or, some airports offer their own reservation systems that allow travellers to book a spot in line. For instance, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has a program called "Checkpoint Wait Times," which provides real-time information on security line wait times and allows travellers to select a specific time for their security screening.

8. Flying With Premium Class

Did you know that flying premium class can also speed up your journey through the airport? Most airlines offer priority baggage check-in, which means you can avoid the long queues and get your luggage checked in quickly.

In addition, premium class passengers are often given preferential access to shorter airport security queues or dedicated lanes, which can save a significant amount of time. This is because premium class tickets often come with the perk of access to a separate TSA line, which can be a huge time-saver.

Some major airlines that offer these benefits from different types of seats include:

    • Alaska Airlines: First & Premium Class
    • American Airlines: Flagship First, Flagship Business, Premium Economy, Domestic First Class
  • British Airways: First & Business Class, Executive Club Gold & Silver member, Club World & Club Europe member
      • Delta Air Lines: Delta One, Delta Select, Delta Comfort+, First Class
  • Emirates Airlines: First & Business Class
      • JetBlue Airways: Mint Class
  • Southwest Airlines: Business Select and Anytime
    • United Airlines: United Polaris, United Premium Plus, United First, United Business.

    9. Use Family Lane if Applicable

    How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

    Travelling with family can be a rewarding experience. Photo by LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS - stock.adobe.com

    Some carrier such as British Airways has the Family Lanes. Taking advantage of them, you get priority if you're travelling with kids who are 12 years old or younger. It's nice because a separate line for families helps reduce the crowd and gives parents more space and time to handle things.

    The best part? This lane is much more child-friendly. The TSA officers there understand families' challenges while travelling with little ones, so they're generally more patient and helpful. They even offer extra assistance, like helping you with strollers, car seats, or other bulky stuff that needs to go through the X-ray machines.

    Despite being accommodating, Family Lane still maintains strict security measures to keep everyone safe. So, you don't have to worry about that.

    10. Empty Your Water Bottle

    Water bottles typically exceed the allowed volume for liquids. Carrying a full water bottle through security will likely lead to it being confiscated, causing delays and inconvenience for you. Even if you have a partially full water bottle, emptying it before reaching the security checkpoint is better.

    Some travellers might be concerned about staying hydrated during their journey, especially on long flights. You don't have to worry about staying hydrated, as airports have water fountains and water bottle refill stations after the security checkpoint. Once you pass through security, you can refill your empty bottle and keep it with you for the flight.

    11. Have Your ID and Boarding Pass Ready

    How To Get Through Airport Security Faster - CabinZero

    Having your documents ready and easily accessible is essential for a smooth airport experience. Photo by Africa Studio on stock.adobe.com

    You can skip a few steps in the airport security checkpoint line if you're prepared with your identification and boarding pass. First, it facilitates the presentation of documents to TSA officials, which in turn can speed up the queue.

    If you forget your government-issued ID, try to find other forms of identification that may be accepted by TSA. A passport, out-of-state driver's licence, proof of military service, or permanent residency card would all qualify.

    CabinZero’s tip: Put wallet, keys, coins, etc., anything that doesn’t need to be put in a separate bin into a backpack or tote bag.

    To carry all of your stuff, try our CabinZero Bum Bag 2L. It is a traveller's dream with an RFID-blocking feature safeguarding sensitive information and a quick-access zip front pocket for easily retrieving boarding passes, tickets, and travel essentials.

    Moreover, airlines have specific guidelines for such items, and if the bum bag is worn on your person and blends with your outfit, some airline staff may not treat it as an extra bag. So, you can wear it around your waist or across your body under your clothing, it might not draw attention during the boarding process. 

    12. Get Your Electronics Sorted

    When you're rushing to catch a flight, the last thing you want to deal with is a dying phone battery. It can be a major source of stress, especially if you're relying on your phone to access important travel information. 

    Keep in mind to charge all of your devices fully before you leave home. This way, you have the power you need to use mobile boarding passes and stay connected on the go.

    If you travel with your laptop often, then a TSA-friendly laptop bag is a wise option. These bags are butterfly, tri-fold, or sleeve-style, with a laptop part that will rest flat on the X-ray machine's belt.

    However, remember that laptops, batteries, and power banks must be carried on in your carry-on bag and removed separately during the security screening process.

    Getting Through Security Screening In Summary

    1. Empty your water bottle
    2. Have your boarding pass and Photo ID (driver's licence or passport) in your hand
    3. Join the expediting queues (TSA Precheck, Global Entry, or Clear)
    4. Untie your shoes
    5. Clear out your pockets and put everything into the backpack
    6. Remove belts, watches, or jackets before reaching the agent
    7. Think about the number of trays you’ll need:
      • One bin for your belts, watches, shoes, and jacket
      • Another for your carry-on
      • One additional separate bin for your electrical items and laptops.
    8. Stay calm and be polite to the officers.

    And that’s all! Even if you are selected for further inspection, staying calm and cooperative will help the process go more smoothly. Remember, they are doing this to ensure everyone’s safety. 

    Following these tips will improve your chances of getting through airport security faster and with less stress.

    Final Word

    In conclusion, how to get through airport security faster is all about being prepared and following the rules. We have provided you with the best tips to speed up the process.

    By following these guidelines and allowing extra time, you can reduce the likelihood of delays or missed flights, and enjoy a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. 

    If you have any questions related to airport security, please let us know by leaving a comment below. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends as well!

    Ha Ngan


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