If you’ve never flown for work before, chances are your first few business trips might have felt pretty stressful. I found that to be true when I transitioned into a consulting job that required frequent travel, so I turned each trip into a kind of game, making it my goal to uncover “travel hacks” that would improve my experience. In this first installment of my #traveltips series, I’ll share my strategies for breezing through airport security (legally).
Sign Up for TSA Pre-√.
It’s only $85 for a five-year membership and will significantly improve your security line experience. Pre-√ lines are shorter and move faster, because you don’t have to take off your belt or shoes (unless you are wearing spurs), your laptop can stay in your bag, and they let you keep most jackets on unless they’re heavy or bulky.
Get Rid of Banned Items
Before you leave the house, make sure you’ve combed through your carry-on luggage for all banned items, like liquid containers over 3.5 oz, cigarette lighters, or samurai swords.
Download the Airline’s App
Instead of using a printed boarding pass, download the airline’s app and use that to manage your tickets. It’s one less thing to worry about and carry around, you can easily track your flight and your bags, and you simply just look like a pro when you use your phone to check in.
Think One Step Ahead
While waiting in line for the TSA agent to check your ID and boarding pass, go through your pockets and put your wallet, cell phone, headphones, metal jewelry and other sundry items in your carry-on. That way when you hit the metal detectors, you’ll be already ready to feed your bag to the machine and scoot through the body scanner (cross your fingers they don’t order a cavity search).
Another thing you can do while waiting in line: scope out the queues for the metal detectors and body scanners. Pay attention to the people in each line and avoid the one with people most likely to slow it down: obvious first-time travelers, people with lots of jewelry, and people with kids or who look like they might need help getting through the line. The more you travel, the better your “slow line spidey-sense” will become adept at guiding you to the right queue.
Once you’ve completed steps 1-5, and the TSA agent has checked your boarding pass and ID, you’re well on your way to scooting through security in record time. Only one more thing can slow you down: heavy boots. If you’re in construction, or if you’re riding that hipster wave, you may have a nice pair of Red Wings. While they’re pretty handy for kicking down doors or getting you to trendy coffee shops with dry feet, they will set off the metal detector even if they’re not steel-toed. You’ve been warned: there’s a price to pay for looking fly.
There you have it. You’ve now breezed through security like a boss and can move on to the airport lounge of your choice (more on those in the next edition of #traveltips). If you have any tips that did not make it on this list, I’d love to hear them, so please comment. Thanks for reading!