Does anyone who flies in the U.S. look forward to going through a TSA security line? You could probably make good money in Vegas by putting all your chips on “No.” You can make the TSA security line experience easier on yourself, however, just by taking a few simple steps.
1. Even if you fly only a couple times a year, it’ll be worth it to you to apply for the Transportation Security Administration’s Precheck program. It costs $85, is good for five years and requires an application and background check, but nothing else comes remotely close to getting you through TSA airport security at top speed and with no additional examination.
2. If you travel with a carry-on bag, do whatever you can to make it easy for TSA security officers to see everything in it on their x-ray machines. Cluttered carry-ons almost always lead to a further examination by explosive trace detection machines.
3. Don’t go through a TSA security line wearing a bunch of jewelry. The agency uses metal detectors for the most part to screen travelers, and metals trigger them. The same goes for belts with metal buckles as well as shoes with steel-reinforced soles. Here’s a rule: Travel for comfort, not for the disco.
4. More travelers are held up by TSA because they failed to follow the rules about liquids, aerosols, and gels than by any other issue. Remember, those three substances must be in bottles 3.4 ounces or less in size, all bottles must fit in 1 bag, and that bag also can’t be bigger than 1 quart.
5. Once you go through the line, take some time to re-stack any trays or tubs you placed your things in. TSA lines noticeably slow down when the officers peel away from screening passengers just to re-stack all those tubs.
Getting through a TSA security line quickly and without attracting more than your fair share of attention is about common sense and doing the above things more than anything else. If you do them, you’ll usually make your travel experience far easier on yourself and far easier on TSA security officers.
Kelly Hoggan, Founder and CEO of H4 Solutions, previously served as assistant administrator for operations at the Transportation Security Administration. In that role, he was responsible for aircraft and checkpoint security operations at the nation's 400-plus commercial airports.