We travel a lot and I enjoy it mostly, however flying has become less enjoyable every year. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one of course is TSA. I will not go into what a pathetic use of taxpayers’ money this organization is (what’s the point) or how I don’t feel much safer flying. However, this is not what this post is about. It’s about saving time so you don’t have to panic while trying to get through the annoying process.
This post is about the panic that they cause flyers when they see the annoying slow-moving line at security and a rapidly approaching departure time. For years the standard suggestion was to get to the airport two hours before your flight. Sadly, today even getting to the airport two hours early leaves just minutes to spare to buy a magazine, grab a snack, or hustle to the bathroom. It’s all a little tiring. However, I do not want to stop traveling and seeing places on my bucket list. Thus I decided to share a few ideas to help you save time at the airport as well as get through the humiliation and hassle at security.
- Check-in online use and carry-on bags whenever possible. Unless I am traveling for an extended amount of time, I always try to carry on. Yes, it’s a pain trying to get through security with your bags, but it saves you time on the other end. Sometimes it can take 20-30 minutes to get your bag(s) at baggage claim. I’d rather just get off the plane and out of the airport asap.
- Check flight status. This is something I try to do every time I fly. I have had so many flights delayed that I rather sit at home than at the airport. A word of advice though, depending on the airline, these delays can change and they will not care if you are not there to get on the plane. We are at their mercy. Sometimes you can do nothing but sit and wait and wait. Not too bad unless you have a bunch of bored kids. I feel sorry for the poor parents.
- Weigh your bags before you leave for the airport. If they are overweight you may end up having to shuffle stuff around at the counter with people staring at you. Don’t panic if you are a frequent traveler. You can buy a luggage scale so you can weigh your bags on the road.
- Have your paperwork ready. Make sure that your license, passport, and boarding pass are all readily available and easy to access when you get to the security line. There is nothing worse than standing in line and having to dig through a bag or purse. I hate that feeling of panic when I can’t find my documents.
- Perform Your Own Security Scan. A note of advice, a short line doesn’t always mean a fast line. A dozen businesspeople might move through security much faster than two families with young children or a tour group of senior citizens. Just remember this equation: One baby carriage equals four typical passengers.
- Here’s another quick tip: aim for the far left or far right scanner lanes. Most casual and new travelers just walk straight ahead and end up waiting longer as a result.
- Be prepared to get undressed and humiliated. Just part of the joy of flying today :(. Anyway, right before you go through the wonderful metal detectors or machines, you will be made to take off your shoes, belts, and certain jewelry. Wearing shoes that come off easily will make it all go faster. They will also make you take out everything in your pockets like keys, cell phones, etc, and put it in a bucket. On and I need to mention that you have to take your laptop out of its case (unless you have one that is TSA approved). Apparently having it in the case is just insane. This is all on top of the liquids that have to be out of your carry-on bags as well. I won’t go into the details here (again what’s the point), but that information is on their site.
- Sign up for TSA PreCheck. Members of this program are prescreened and can whiz through security without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases. This program is now available at more than 180 airports, but it is not free. There is $85 for this “convenience”, but it is good for five years. We recently went through the process and have to say it’s much faster at least. However, I am still the lucky one that gets randomly screened quite often. Lucky me :(.
Like I said earlier, I love to travel and explore, I am just not a fan of having to be delayed and harassed just trying to fly and have a good time. All of this TSA security crap just adds anxiety and panic to an already stressful situation. Especially if you are trying to navigate through an airport you may not be familiar with. I just don’t feel much safer and see it as a waste of time, but I guess it’s just my feelings and my two cents. I will not let panic overtake me and I will continue to travel in spite of the ridiculousness. If you found this article helpful, make sure to check out my 10 Smart Things to Pack in a Carry-On Bag post. It can also help you save time by being prepared for flying.
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