With airports busier than ever, longer lines at check-in, and airport security wait times that can be unpredictable, the old airport “two hour” rule sometimes leaves just minutes to spare to grab a snack, make a quick phone call, or run to the bathroom before boarding. But there are still ways to get through the airport faster.
Saving a few extra minutes here and there along the way can add up in your favor. Here are 5 tips for the airport that will get you from the front door to your seat on the plane as quickly and efficiently as possible.
#1 Use Mobile and Curbside Check-in
This app is a necessity for me when I am traveling.
It is highly recommended to do as many check-in processes as possible that you can away from the crowds in the airport. Start by downloading the app for the airline that you’ll be flying with. On the app, you will be able to check in for your flight 24 hours in advance which saves a ton of time at the airport. In addition to saving time, this allows you to verify your seats and ensure there are no issues with your ticket. With the app, you’ll have your electronic ticket stored on your phone and it won’t be necessary to have a printed ticket. With the airline app’s push notifications on, you will also get notified right away if your flight is delayed or canceled. It will also tell you if your flight’s gate has changed which is important if you don’t want to be rushed after your clear security.
Likewise, if you are not carrying on your luggage, you can eliminate the check-in desk altogether if you use curbside check-in for your luggage. So many people walk right past the check-in desk located at the entrance to the airport. Typically, it’s easy to walk up with no wait and get your luggage checked in for your flight without needing to stand in the long line inside to get your luggage tagged.
#2 Get TSA Pre-Check or CLEAR
The security line is the infamous pinch point in most airports. Depending on what airport you’re in, you can be in these lines for more than an hour if you're in the standard shoes-off, laptops-out security queue. However, this process can be a breeze if you use some tools at your disposal. Both TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are great options to reduce your time getting through airport security.
Signing up for TSA PreCheck or CLEAR should be a priority if you don't want to spend lots of time in the security line.
TSA Precheck is a federally run program with dedicated, expedited security lines that are typically much shorter than the normal lines. You don't have to remove your coat, shoes, or belt, nor do you need to remove electronics or liquids from your bag. You can also get TSA PreCheck by enrolling in Global Entry which doubles as a fast-pass through customs and immigration when you return to the US from an international flight.
CLEAR is not run by the government: it's a privately run trusted traveler program. CLEAR uses biometrics to verify your identity and it allows you to cut to the front of the airport security line.
#3 Know the Rules
The screening process at TSA is one of the most stressful parts of air travel. Do yourself a favor and get comfortable with the security screening process and find out what’s allowed (and what’s not). This should prevent you from dealing with items being confiscated from your carry-on luggage.
As a refresher, liquids in your carry-on luggage must be less than 3.4 ounces and stored in a transparent bag no larger than 1 quart. Save yourself the hassle of dealing with the busted sandwich bag that had a lotion explosion by purchasing travel-sized products or, buy a clear bag combination with bottles that you can fill with product from your full-size bottles at home.
All of my toiletry essentials fit into my carryon approved clear bag.
#4 Wear Appropriate Clothing
Non-PreCheck members still must remove light jackets, shoes, and belts before going through security. Because of this, wear shoes that are easy to remove and consider wearing pants that do not require a belt. Make sure your clothing does not have metal on it and remove piercings or other metal from your body that might flag the metal detectors.
Even if you have TSA PreCheck, remove everything from your pockets before going through the scanner. While you can put your wallet, keys, sunglasses, coins, and watch in a bin, it’s recommended to put these things in your suitcase for easy retrieval. You can also put it in your jacket pockets if you opt to take it off. Keeping all your items together makes it easier to gather your goods and quickly clear security.
#5 Store Large Electronics in an Easy to Access Location
If it’s likely that you will be traveling with your laptop often or large battery packs, invest in a backpack or laptop bag that makes retrieving these things simple. If you’re trying to quickly make your way through the airport, the last thing you want to kill your momentum is standing in the security line hunting for items in your backpack.
If carrying a backpack is your travel style, then have your laptop in your main compartment in a position where it can move freely and easily when you grab for it. If large bags/purses are more your style, then try a laptop bag that open butterfly style allowing the bag to lay flat on the x-ray machine belt.
Image by wavebreakmedia_micro on Freepik
Is your next trip just around the corner and you’re already stressing the long airport queues? Utilizing these tips should have you moving through the airport with ease.
Hey, I'm Ronda Wright 👋🏽
I'm the founder of The Wright Getaway. I love all things travel and helping other people experience the world.
Let's chat about your upcoming travel plans!