Travel Truth #1: The Security Line Science

You just stood in line for what you swear was 55 minutes (check your watch, it was probably 15) to have a TSA agent analyze your photo ID and scribble, what you can only assume is complete nonsense, all over your boarding pass. As you thank the agent; you always should – politeness goes both ways when traveling; and step forward you notice the choice of 10 different lines to choose from for more waiting and more analyzing.

If your  journey originates from a smaller regional airport you may not have the security line dilemma. Chances are you only have one or two lines to choose from and there are probably zero to three people in each line. However, if you are originating from a major international hub, or even transiting through a foreign country, chances are you have come across the security line madness that has you frantically looking at each line trying to count the number of people and join the shortest one before the people behind you have a chance to pass you.

Here are some tips on getting through that security checkpoint a little faster and little easier.

  1. Multi-task by trying to scan the lines while the TSA agent is checking your ID and boarding pass.
  2. Be prepared.  You can’t be an inpatient traveler, then hold up the line when it’s your turn.
    • Have your laptop/tablet and quart bag with liquids easily accessible
    • Take your belt off (if you know it beeps) while waiting in line and put it in your bag
    • Wear shoes that are easy to slip on/off.  Ladies! Avoid buckles and boots that you can’t get in/out of easily.
  3. If possible, get in the line behind cabin crew.  They are the real experts.
  4. Look for Business Travelers.  Usually recognized as well dressed with nothing but a sleek roll aboard suitcase (usually an expensive brand) and a laptop bag.  They most likely have slip-on shoes and are organized and quick to get their items on and off the conveyor in a quick manner.  
  5. Avoid the following:
    • Families with kids, especially with strollers
    • Older people, especially with wheelchairs and walkers
    • Large tour groups
  6. Avoid anyone who looks like their luggage allotment already exceeds the carry-on limit with overstuffed luggage.  Chances are these people aren’t organized (hence why their luggage is too big and over packed) and they won’t be efficient in line.
  7. In the US particularly, travelers don’t like to use the full body scanners, which means the lines at the old-fashioned metal detectors are longer.  Go with the body scanner if it can save you from standing in line behind a disorganized family for an extra 20 minutes.  If you are a seasoned traveler you have already been through one, your privacy is already breached, and the “radiation” isn’t going to harm you.

Sidenote: In Asia particularly, if you hesitate for a split second people will shove right past you and crowd all the lines, be quick, there is no advice I can give to stop that madness.

Happy Travels!


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