Flying has always been somewhat of a hassle, but the advent of TSA screenings has only made the experience more painful. When flights already take several hours, including the time to check in, board the plane, disembark, and collect your baggage, who wants to show up an extra two hours early for security? It’s a necessary evil that everyone has resigned themselves to enduring if they have to fly. But what if there were ways to reduce frustrations and speed up the process?
To help make security checks more bearable, we’ve put together this list of simple things that can be done to reduce frustrations and delays. You can thank us later.
Pack Your Bags
The first thing you can do to make screenings more painless, is to pack anything you don’t expressly need in a carryon. Electronics you won’t be using on the flight, liquids like shampoo and other hygiene items, metal items, and other things that security flags during screenings. The less you carry on your person, the less you have to pack into those little gray totes for the x-ray scanner.
When you’re standing in line, waiting to go through the checkpoint, get things ready. Untie your shoes and have them ready to slip off. Have items ready to pull out of your bag, if they need to be pulled. Have your boarding pass and ID in hand and ready to give to the TSA agent. The more you can do before getting to the front of the line, the less you have to do frantically as everyone stares at you, waiting for their turn.
Keep in mind what needs to be pulled from the bag, and what doesn’t. Electronics only need to be pulled if they’re the size of a laptop or bigger (think game systems like an Xbox or a PlayStation). CPAP machines often can stay in their bags, depending on the instructions of the agents, so ask in advance. And be prepared to empty all your pockets, even if the contents aren’t metal.
Dress for the Occasion
You might be noticing a pattern of getting ready in advance. The same goes with how you dress. From the ground up, the things you decide to wear have an impact on how quickly you get through security. For instance, your shoes will be easier to deal with if they’re slip-ons (though, maybe avoid sandals; you can’t be sure what’s on that floor). Dress simply, avoid excessive jewelry, and try to limit what you keep in your pockets.
Some wearable items are more likely to get you into trouble than others. Belts are often a frustration—the metal on them means having to take them off and put them back on. At best it’s a nuisance. If you’re wearing the wrong belt buckle, it might be a lot worse. There is an alternative, though. Grip6’s carbon fiber series is a stylish belt sans metal buckle, which means you don’t have to take it off to get through TSA. Details like that will make you the envy of every pants-wearer at the airport.
We’ve saved the best for last. If you want to skip almost all of the hassle involved with TSA screenings—taking off your shoes, removing items from your bag, even pat-downs—and you fly more than once a year, then TSA precheck is what you want. TSA precheck is an opt-in feature that offers a separate screening line and reduced security procedures for people who pre-register. If you’ve been in the airport, and seen a shorter, faster-moving security line that you weren’t allowed in, then you’ve seen precheck in action.
Signing up for precheck is easy. A little paperwork, a background check, and a 10 minute in-person interview, and you’re all set. It allows the TSA to ensure you’re not a flight risk before you reach the airport, meaning they don’t have to subject you to all the rigors of normal passengers. It costs $85 to sign up, but it lasts for five years, so anyone who thinks they will be at the airport more than a few times in five years would benefit from precheck. Besides, who doesn’t want to spend less than five minutes in the security line?
So get yourself a Grip6 carbon fiber series belt, sign up for TSA Precheck, and never worry about taking off your shoes at the airport again.