Airport security is the one part of the air travel journey where there’s no special privileges other than perhaps a separate lane to stand in. It sucks for everyone equally, and generally feels like watching a movie you’ve seen 5,000 times on slow motion, with the white noise volume turned up. If you want that George Clooney “Up In The Air” feeling of airport savvy, here are a few simple things you can do to spend as little time as possible getting your private bits checked out by an x-ray machine, and more time at the airport bar forgetting about the whole ordeal…

people sitting in a terminalPack Your Belt

Everyone likes looking good, but with any hope the time between walking into the airport and the time you pass through the scanners will be mere minutes. Pop your belt into your carry on, so that you can avoid stripping at security. Once through, just pull it out of the bag and assemble your best outfit.

Invest In A Laptop Pocket

Sure, some airports don’t make you take your laptop or iPad out, but most do. If you plan to travel more than once every blue moon, investing in a backpack or carry on with a laptop/iPad pocket is a huge step. This allows you to avoid rummaging through your stuff and just pop your electronics out in the flash of a second.

Wear Slip On Shoes

Slip on shoes will make you happy long after security. It can be a nice loose pair of sneakers, boots that slide on and off, or a pair of actual slip ons. Whatever you choose, these will save so much time at airport security and feel nice on the plane too. Taking your socks off on the plane is never ok, but shoes – totally fine. Just be respectful…

airport spaceAvoid Tricky Layers

Layers are nice when you travel. Sometimes it’s too cold, sometimes way too hot. But when you prepare to go through the scanners, leave the layers in your bag, or pick some like a zip up sweatshirt or jacket which are easy to remove. You always need to remove layers when going through security, so having to peel off a tight turtleneck and other items will slow (everyone) down.

Buy A $5 Clear Toiletry Bag

Having to keep random clear plastic bags at hand, or pull to the side to place your liquids into one at the airport is not ideal. A bunch of companies sell really good, reusable – the environment thanks you – clear bags which zip up. You can chuck all your toiletries into the zip bag before getting to security to speed up the whole process.

Pick The Right Lane

In some airports, you end up with a dealers choice. Picking the screening lane to jump into can make all the difference. Look for the obvious signs like total amateurs wearing multiple layers, people who have lots of jewellery, students etc and avoid them wherever possible. This isn’t polite, sure, but it can save a lot of time.

Pay For Global Entry

Global Entry is the thing that makes entering the United States a fast and breezy cakewalk. It’s also the thing which gets TSA PreCheck thrown in, which allows you to keep laptops in bags and shoes on through security in the USA. It comes with quite a few credit cards, so it’s worth looking into. Why pay when your credit card can cover it for you?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The segment in Up In The Air says it right: Pack light and slip on shoes.
    Oh and the part about avoiding old people and those with baby trolleys…
    …Or you can pay 2USD at Vietnam border like me.

  2. While this is great advice, for it to really work you need one more thing: that those ahead of you aren’t idiots or completely clueless.

    I go through LHR T2 frequently, and on a trip through there a few months ago, the guy in front of me (in his 30s) actually said to the security staff “wait, you mean I need to take my liquids out of my bag?” As if that rule had just come in…

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