11 tips for flying through airport security

Minimizing time at TSA checkpoints by thinking ahead

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Summer always is my favorite time to travel. But with slower-than-usual wait-times reported recently at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints across the country, it seems we travelers need to do whatever we can to expedite the process.

With this in mind, I recently came up with a number of tips for minimizing your time at the checkpoint and flying through airport security. Here, in no particular order, are my top 11.

Pack light: Wherever possible, bring carry-on baggage only to avoid potentially long lines at check in. Also be sure to avoid bringing items that may trigger a manual bag inspection, including oversized liquids or corkscrews.

Follow the 3-1-1: The TSA allows for one 1-quart bag of liquids per person. Within that bag, each liquid’s individual container cannot exceed 3.4 ounces. Remember this rule to avoid further screenings.

Choose wisely: When selecting a security line, keep an eye out for how other travelers ahead of you have packed and whether they’re traveling with kids. You’ll have a much better chance of getting through security quickly if you stay close to those who have streamlined their packing and aren’t traveling with minors.

Ask the question: Believe it or not, it actually helps to ask the TSA agent which line is the fastest. Agents always stay in touch with each other, and, if you’re nice, they might be willing to let you in on the secret of which line is best.

Speed up the security process: Signing up for TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, or CLEAR can shorten the amount of time you spend in security lines. These options provide expedited clearance through security on the front-end of your flights, and in some cases enable you to bypass long customs lines upon arrival into the United States.

Zzahya Delarosa accompanies her grandmother, Lily Compton-Brown, through screening at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). Transportation Security Officers (TSO), Brooks Anderson, aid the travelers through security.

Photo courtesy of TSA

Save time with a ride: Arrange for transportation to the airport by booking an airport shuttle. This can help you eliminate additional lines and wait times that come with long-term parking.

Keep apps close: Keep your phone handy throughout your trip for quick access to important notifications such as flight delays and gate changes. The Expedia app sends real-time notifications and alerts about flight status changes so you can stay up to date.

Check in early: Checking-in for your flight before you arrive at the airport can save major time by allowing you to bypass the departures counter and head straight to security (provided you’ve got carry-on only).

Travel off-peak: To decrease your chance of security delays, travel during off-peak times. There are often fewer people traveling during the week (as opposed to weekends). Midday also often is a good time to depart.

Dress the part: To expedite your time in the security line, wear shoes that are easy to take on and off, and consider donning a travel belt you don’t have to remove. Not only will this help you move through the line faster, but it will enable other passengers to move more quickly as well.

Practice politeness: Simply being nice goes a long way. Smile and say, “Please,” and, “Thank you,” when you interact with TSA agents. It’s kind. It’s courteous. And who knows: You might just earn yourself an express pass through the security line.

What are your tips for flying through airport security?

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Sarah Waffle Gavin

As head of PR and communications at Expedia, Sarah Gavin holds responsibility for influential programs for the Expedia brand and is the force behind the creation of the Expedia Viewfinder blog. Sarah has a strong background in technology communications and came to Expedia after six years of working on the Microsoft business for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. Part foodie, part tech geek, part mom, part traveler, when she's not strolling through the shops of Manhattan or sitting poolside in Mexico, she hangs her hat in the burbs of Seattle, Washington at the intersection of travel, technology, and motherhood.

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