1. Don’t overpack.
How to do it: Weigh your bags at home? Yeah right! Airports are installing scales in front of the check-in areas so if you suspect your checked bag might be overweight, weigh it before you get in line and do any swapping between your bags before you reach the check-in counter.
2. Pack what the TSA will not throw out.
How to do it: Don’t attempt to bring along any TSA unapproved items like bigger lotions and liquids, an army knife, cuticle clippers or corkscrews – leave these items at home or check them in your suitcase. All liquids in your carry-on bag must be in bottles of three ounces or less, and all these bottles must then be placed in a clear, quart-size, zip-style plastic bag.
3. Choose a go-to travel outfit.
How to do it: Avoid metallic clothing and too many accessories, as you will have to remove these before going through a metal detector. Also try to wear shoes that you can easily slip on and off and don’t wear an outfit that requires a belt!
4. Check in ahead of time online.
An easy time-saver, whether you print your own boarding passes or put them directly on your phone. It makes sure you’re getting the seat you want for the flight too. Plus, if you are not taking anything other than carry-on bags you can bypass the front desk altogether.
How to do it: Check if your airline has an app and download it to your smartphone. It will prompt you when check in opens, allow you to update your booking and advise you of any changes or delays to your flight.
5. Sign up for TSA pre-check.
You get to use a different, faster security line; you don’t have to remove your laptop or liquids from your bag; and you can keep on your belt, shoes and light jacket.
How to get it: Fill out the TSA PreCheck Application online, pay an $85 fee and schedule a follow-up interview to confirm your identity and provide fingerprints. Once you’re approved, you will navigate the airport faster!
6. Get Global Entry.
It makes your airport journey faster because it allows you to skip the long lines and head straight to the customs checkpoint, where an officer will quickly double-check your credentials and send you off pretty quickly. As an added bonus, Global Entry approval also comes with TSA PreCheck, so you’re basically getting a two-for-one deal.
How to get it: Fill out the online Global Entry application, pay a $100 fee and wait for conditional approval (usually around 3-4 weeks) before scheduling your follow-up interview.
7. Buy your status.
Airlines have begun selling priority status to passengers who would not otherwise be eligible.
How to get it: Sign up for a points plan or credit card with the airline of your choice so every time you spend money on a flight or other purchases, you will build points that will soon get you to a higher status. This means that you will get priority status with the airline and will make your time at the airport more efficient.
8. Use the TSA app.
You’ll find out what the wait times are at the airport, but you can also find out if there might be a secondary security area that might not be as crowded (checking out the airport maps can also help you find those often under-visited screening areas).
9. Choose the left line.
I read this tip about surviving notoriously long lines on the lifehackers website. The theory is that left lines tend to be shorter because the majority of people are right-handed and tend to unconsciously choose things on the right.
How to do it: Stand on the lefthand lane.
10. Never wait in line to get rebooked.
Don’t put yourself in a stampede heading towards the help desk if your flight gets cancelled or there’s a really long delay – just skip the line!
How to get it: Call the airline ASAP or use the airline app for faster service.