We’ve all heard about and seen the mass chaos and atrocious long lines at US airports, especially here at Chicago at Midway and O’Hare. Lines have been up to a quarter mile long! There has not been enough TSA staff to accommodate the influx of the summer season’s air travelers. At times airlines are not flying full planes and passengers are missing their flights due to not getting past security in enough time. The entire process can be very agitating. You could apply to a trusted travel program such as TSA Pre Check, Global Entry or Nexus. These options will get you through the security screening process faster and with ease. There is a process when applying for these programs and there is a nominal fee. That won’t help you when you are taking to the friendly skies to your 4th of July celebration.
Here are 10 Pre and Post Travel Tips on “How To-Get Through” the long TSA airport lines.
Please note: The list can be used for both your Pre and Post Travel trip.
Charge it: Some of the best credit cards that can get you through security are, the Platinum Card from American Express, the Citi Prestige Card, and the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard. All of these cards have a $450 annual fee. However, with the perks of getting through security lines faster coupled with earning airline points, the process will make it a bit easier for you.
Elite Flyer: There are perks to staying loyal to one airline, namely all the benefits you get with your elite status. One of the biggest perks is the priority security lines that are dedicated to the airlines premier or elite flyers. These are almost always shorter and faster than the lines your standard travelers have to stay in
Upgrade Ya! Did you know, that you can pay to get into those short security lines, simply by upgrading your seat? Pay a little extra for some extra legroom or to be move towards the front of the plane. You can sometimes get priority security line status by doing this. And at times, it can cost as little as $25 each way, per seat. Of course this varies depending on the airport and where you are flying to. You could also fly like a VIP and splurge for business or first class seats. American and United offer expedited security lane access for business first class passengers. Delta offers the service only to travelers in its exclusive Delta One cabins (a step up from first class). However, do not count on getting upgraded for free unless you’re at the very top of the status chain; airlines are generally holding out for paying customers these days.
What’s on time? EARLY? The old rule use to be, arrive at the airport 1 hour prior to departure for domestic flights and 2 hours early for international. These days, a good rule of thumb would be to arrive at the airport 2 hours for domestic flights and 3 hours before international flights. It is better to be there early, than to be stuck in a line and miss your flight!
Check, Please: Since the airlines charge you to check your bags anyway, (with the exception of Southwest) a simple way to get through security faster is to check all of your bags. At some airports like Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta
Hartsfield, TSA has bomb sniffing canines at the airports. A passenger without bulky bags is most likely to get pulled from the line for a quick sniff and you can pass through with ease.
Ask Around: Ask a TSA agent where the fastest line is when you get to the start of the check point. You don’t always have to jump right into the line nearest from where you checked in at. The agents always stay in touch with one another and, if you’re nice, you can get the best tips on where to go.
“Tipping you in the right direction” It’s also important to keep in mind that checking in ahead of arriving to the airport can save major time by allowing you to head straight to security if you’re carrying on baggage.”
There’s an app for that: Always keep your phone handy throughout your trip for quick access to important notifications such as flight delays and gate changes. Here are a few free and useful apps to assist you with cutting down your wait time. “FlightAware” provides live flight status including delay tracking and weather maps on commercial flights worldwide. There is also, the app called “My TSA”. Passengers can click on their airport location and check wait times at main checkpoints throughout the airport. You can post this information and make it available to other travelers. It also has weather maps and other airport statuses as well.
Hand it over
Have your boarding pass and identification already out in hand. Don’t fumble for it.
“Tipping you in the right direction” Make sure your ID matches your boarding pass. Some people go by shorten or nick-names. And that is fine. Just make sure, whatever name you have on your Government Issued ID matches your boarding pass.
What’s the 3-1-1? Remember you are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces or less per item. Don’t wait until you get to the belt to begin to pull your items out. Have them out already. This also includes your large electronic devices like your laptop or camera, medications and infant care items. This will cut down on your security screening time.
Pickers Can Be Choosey: To avoid the chance of security delays, travel during off-peak times. There are often less people traveling during the week, as opposed to during the weekend. Some studies have shown that on average, security lines are slower on Friday afternoons between 4P and 8P local time. Also avoid the traditional busy travel days like the day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Choosing your airport can be a key factor in weather or not you are stuck in security lines. If you have the choice of a smaller airport or a larger one, you may want to choose the smaller one if you want to avoid long lines. Please note, this is not always the case, but it is worth a try.