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How to Get through Airport Security

Shorten your time in the security line with these tips.


  • Step 1: Check wait time Log on to the Transportation Security Administration’s website, In the section 'For Travelers,' click on 'Air Travel' and then 'Wait Times.' Plug in your travel information. You’ll be given the approximate security line wait time for your airport, helping you to plan accordingly.
  • Step 2: Know the drill Know the basics. Place gels or liquids (other than breast milk, baby formula, and medicine) in 3-ounce (or smaller) bottles. and put those into a clear, self-sealing, one-quart plastic bag. Remove body piercings, belts, change, and your watch ahead of time. Never carry anything that could be used as a weapon, like a hammer or a baseball bat.
  • TIP: Gel shoe inserts are not allowed.
  • Step 3: Wear a travel vest and slip-on shoes Fashion be damned! Comfort before fashion: wear a special travel, safari, or photographer’s vest that features interior pockets for all your electronics. Sport some slip-on shoes so you don’t fumble with laces when removing them. That way, all you have to do is remove your jacket and shoes, put them in a bin, and you’re all set.
  • Step 4: Boot up your computer If you’re carrying a laptop, turn it on and put it to sleep before you get in line. Security personnel conduct spot checks to ensure that a computer is really a computer, and having to wait for yours to boot could slow you way down.
  • Step 5: Fly midday Whenever possible, book flights that leave between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. That’s when the fewest flights depart, so lines will be shorter.
  • Step 6: Choose your line wisely Don’t assume that the shortest line will be the quickest one. Avoid getting behind families with small children, elderly people, and anyone who looks like a novice. Pick the line with the travelers that look the most seasoned, like business people.
  • TIP: For the shortest line, go to the left. Most people instinctively veer to the right.
  • Step 7: Layer your carry-on Pack your carry-on bag in layers — a layer of clothing, then electronics, then another layer of clothes, topped by heavier items like shoes. This helps security officers see what’s in your bag. If it’s a jumbled mess, you might have to wait for a time-consuming hand search.
  • Step 8: Become a registered traveler Pay $128 a year to become a registered traveler. Companies like Clear ( & Flo ( take your biometric information (like fingerprints and iris images) & have a background check performed on you. If you pass, you’re issued an ID card that allows you to sail through special security lines at participating airports.
  • FACT: The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, was formed after September 11, 2001, and now employs roughly 50,000 people.

You Will Need

  • Conformity with airport security rules
  • A travel vest
  • Slip-on shoes
  • A layered carry-on
  • A registered traveler ID card

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