Summer traveling can be anything from slightly uncomfortable to extremely irritating, especially at a crowded airport. It’s just annoying to be among so many passengers, waiting in immovable lines, and dealing with plenty of chaos.
Most people just suck it up, but there are some smart strategies and techniques that can help you navigate terminals rapidly, and they’re effective during all season and in every airport.
1. Pay a Fee that’s Worth the Money
The PreCheck, TSA’s faster airport security program, is not free. Some people assume that its price tag of $85 is very expensive, but they probably don’t know that they can take advantage of its membership benefits for 5 long years. In case you are a business traveler or you just fly often enough, this program can save so many hours of waiting in endlessly long lines.
All you need to do is sign up online, make an appointment for an in-person interview, which will only last a few minutes, and then, wait for the email containing your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to get to your inbox and follow the prompts so you can add it to your flight. Once you get to the airport, you’ll quickly pass through the PreCheck-only line, your shoes will remain on your feet, and you may feel a little bit like a VIP guest.
Or, you may consider paying an additional $15 for Global Entry, which can provide you with a faster re-entry into the United States when you’re on an international flight, as well as it includes PreCheck membership.
Cheap Trick: One spouse joins PreCheck while the other doesn’t! When the two spouses fly together, the non-member will often see the PreCheck designation on their boarding pass. This is very common but not guaranteed.
2. Check the App
If your phone is loaded with apps and you think that you certainly don’t need another app, think again! This TSA (Transportation Security Administration) application is really unique.
In fact, it can tell you which security checkpoint lines are moving as quick as they should at your selected airport and which are not, so you can always manage to avoid the worst and most irritating lines.
You simply have to download the app and keep it on your phone for easy access whenever you’re traveling, or you can check out wait times on the federal agency’s website.
3. Be Checkpoint Ready
You should never feel upset while going through the airport’s security routine. You should know that, sometimes, even TSA agents go through security checkpoints with large bottles of water and other banned stuff, so it’s completely normal when you do! Of course, it does waste your time, but it does you no harm.
So, before you book a flight, you should check out the TSA’s online travel guide called What can I bring?, which offers information on what you can and cannot bring, so you’ll already know whether that jar of homemade jam can be transported in your checked suitcase or not.
4. Use Your Pockets
Pockets can be very useful and you may want to consider using a purse or bag too. Try to keep a small number of the most important items handy in order to avoid wasting time and energy. You should keep all the things you need on you, be it passport, meds, phone, tablet, or sweet treats, and remember to check on them from time to time to ensure they’re still with you.
For instance, never leave a security checkpoint or even your seat by the boarding gate without making sure that your phone and charger cord are safely stored into a roomy pocket. The Lost & Found department in the airport is actually loaded with electronics, and even if you do recall where you lost your things, getting them back would be both irritating and time-consuming.
You may also consider packing your lunch from home in a small and easy-to-access bag. This will both save you money and time at the cash register’s line.
5. Get to Airport Earlier than You already Planned
Arriving to the airport at the last minute is a very bad idea that probably used to work in the past. Nowadays, airlines such as the American ones tend to shut the boarding door at least 10 minutes before departure! So if you arrive at 9 minutes before take-off, there are high chances that you will unfortunately miss your flight.
Ideally, it is recommended for passengers to show up at the airport from 90 minutes to 2 hours in advance for domestic travel and up to 3 hours early for international flights.