5 tips for speeding through airport security

This is a USA edition. Most of this applies elsewhere as well (I’ve used it internationally), but it’s not always the same.

Right after I decided I would say bye to everyone and get in line for security at the Louisville Airport, the line grew from just a few people to dozens. At that point, though, someone suggested I just breeze through the “expert traveler” line. I don’t fly first-class, but I have flown a lot lately. I figured I’d give it a try. And as it turned out, I realized I have gotten pretty good at speeding through security.

The trick is to get everything on the conveyor belt. Expanding that a bit, you might say the trick is to get everything on he conveyor belt quickly and on the first try. Here are my top five tips for doing that:

  • Keep your ID and your boarding pass handy (so you don’t have to find them): Don’t file these away. They will check these when you’re going through security. It’s easy to forget this step, especially the ID part because they don’t always require it.
  • Wear one jacket (so you can fill it with everything in your pockets): I dump all my change, all my travel documents, everything in my pockets into the jacket before I even leave for the airport. That way, once I get in line, all I have to do is take off the jacket and place it on the conveyor belt, and I’m set. (Don’t wear two jackets or an extra hoodie or something like that because you’ll have to take that off too.)
  • Pack your laptop last (so you can get it out quickly): You’ll need to pull your laptop out of your bag when it goes through security, so put it in the top portion of your bag, somewhere accessible. When you’re going through security, place it, closed, in a tray of its own.
  • Wear slip-on shoes (so you can take them off and get them back on quickly). Sometimes, the longest part of security, other than the line, is lacing up your boots right after the whole deal. Avoid that by wearing shoes you don’t have to tie and you can put on while you’re standing up.
  • Mind your jewelry (so you don’t get patted down). They’ll usually let you go through the line with belts and earrings and watches and so on, but if you’re trying to streamline the process, it’s best to avoid these altogether (or take them off in line and slip them into that multi-purpose jacket of yours).
  • Bonus tip: Don’t forget your scissors (so they don’t have to pull you aside to search for them). On my way back to Korea from Thailand, security asked if I had scissors in my bag. “No,” I said. Then they asked if they could search my bag. Turns out, I’d forgotten about a pair I’d purchased for a class. Don’t do that.

What else would you suggest?

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