The TSA Checkpoint Tips Only Flight Attendants Know

Updated 06/14/17
a traveler at the airport
@eleanorpendleton

If you’re anything like us, then going on vacation is one of the best things in the world. But spending too long in the TSA check line can put a real damper on your travel plans. Lines at security checkpoints are snaking far beyond where they used to lately, leaving us more impatient than ever. It’s gotten to the point that sometimes it seems as though we spend more time waiting to get through security than we actually spend en route—whatever happened to easy travel? Even if you are a seasoned flier, there are still a few things you can do to expedite the process. Read through to see the top five things to speed up the TSA check process. You can thank us later.

Remember the Liquids Rule

There should be nothing over 3.4 fluid ounces, and it all must fit in one (yes, that’s one) quart-size plastic bag. If you have a lot of beauty products, then just check them. PS: It's so easy to forget your water bottle in your bag and also just as easy to wait in line for another five minutes because of it. Chug it or toss it.

Never Bring Wrapped Gifts

It should be obvious, but it’s not. The TSA doesn’t care if you’re going to your sister’s wedding, your mom’s birthday, or your best friend’s bachelorette party. Bring a bag or wrapping paper with you, and fancy up your gifts post-TSA check. Once you’ve gone through security, it’s a go-to start wrapping.

Avoid Confused Travelers

We’re used to lines—we queue up at the grocery store, at the metro station machines and even at our favorite bakery. It’s human nature to look for the shortest line, but at the airport TSA check, the shortest line is not always the fastest. Instead, keep an eye out for confused travelers or large families traveling together. It’s safe to assume they’ll likely be holding up the line more than a long line of seasoned travelers.

Wear a Jacket or Blazer

You’re not supposed to go through the metal detectors with extras on you like your phone, wallet, or passport/license, so place anything special in your jacket pockets. Simply shrug off your blazer and place it in one of the bins. Once you’re through security, you can put your essentials back in your pants pocket or bag (but this way they all stay together).

Choose Off-Peak Flights

If waiting in long lines makes you anxious (or you’re just not up for it), consider booking early-morning flights. Yes, you may have to wake up at the crack of dawn, but you can catch up on your z’s on the plane. Word to the wise: Tuesdays and Wednesdays also tend to be quieter travel days. 

Do you have any pro tips for going through TSA checkpoints? Up next: summer vacation ideas

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