Airport security lines are bonkers. They're out of control, getting worse and the problem seems to have magically appeared without any dramatic or logical reason. More than ever, navigating the airport can be a treacherous process, so here's everything you need to know to take it on like a pro...
So First, Why Has Security Gotten Out Of Control?
There have never been more people traveling than there are today. We're experiencing an airline renaissance with strong economies, low fuel costs, easy access to ticketing and more planes, offering more flights. That means more passengers. Simultaneously, the (opposite of) geniuses at the TSA have cut the number of screeners by more than 10%, hoping that their PreCheck pet project would reduce the need and speed up screening. It hasn't.
What Can I Do To Beat Security Lines?
Step one is unavoidable for some, and that's to avoid travel during peak business times. Monday-Thursday in mornings and early evenings is always going to be chaos. If you have flexibility, shoot for a mid morning or mid day flight.
Step Two is to prepare to be speedy. Wear shoes you can take on and off easily, avoid too much jewelry or just put the majority of it on after security, empty your pockets beforehand, have your laptop ready to take out, charge your phone. If everyone followed these it would be much faster.
Step three is that loyalty matters more than ever, because elite status is one of the few ways to guarantee a priority lane without purchasing a first class ticket. Find an airline, build status and get those perks. It's not as hard as one may imagine, especially with status challenges.
Finally, if you're a US citizen, enroll in Global Entry and PreCheck. Some credit cards even cover the fee for you. It's the single greatest time saving tip you can have, offering accelerated lanes and the ability to keep shoes and belts on, provided that they open the pre check lanes, with the (opposite of) geniuses at the TSA forget to do from time to time...
What's Being Done About It?
Some emergency funding has been allocated to hire additional screeners. That, however, is like putting a bandaid on a bullet wound, which the TSA is. The program is extremely inefficient and will never thrive in its present form. Many airlines and airports have considered alternative screening options provided by other companies, or just internalizing security by airline.