Though traveling can be and often is an extremely enjoyable experience, the preparation beforehand is not. More specifically, maneuvering through airport security.
This is perhaps the most dreaded part of a vacation. Airports, though not all bad, can be complex, frustrating mazes that seem to only delay your vacation time. There are several factors that can make this worse: larger crowds, stricter screening procedures, and fewer TSA agents assisting travelers throughout the process. Because of this, it’s rare that a trip through the airport will be a quick one. However, there are steps you can take to better your chances for a smoother, faster experience.
Look into pre-check programs
There are plenty of apps and programs that can assist in skipping certain lines. Enrolling in PreCheck or Global Entry is as simple as paying a small fee (typically $85-$100 or so for five years) and verifying your identity. Once you are a member, shorter lines in TSA await. It is important to note that not all airports accept these however, so choose this option carefully.
Know when the best time to fly is
The day of the week and time of day play an enormous role in determining just how crowded the airport may be. Think about traditional rush hour times. Fridays between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. tend to be the busiest both on the road and in airports. This is especially common during the summer months, and, obviously, holidays. Try booking outside of the 4-8 p.m. window. If your travel plans are flexible, consider flying through smaller airports rather than JFK International or LAX as well. This page has a great list of airport times according to traffic and average wait time.
Always print your boarding pass beforehand
This seems like a no-brainer for experienced travelers, but having your boarding pass printed before you reach the airport translates to one less line you have to stand in. Should you have it sent to your email, you can even save a screenshot of it for mobile use. Being this prepared upon arriving cuts down on time spent within the airport. You’ll find your gate faster, and thus have time to either grab a bite to eat or simply relax, basking in the joy of being one of the first flyers to arrive.
This is a simple strategy that many travelers may already be doing unbeknownst to them. Planning your wardrobe before a flight is worth putting some thought into. Consider the fact that you will have to take off your shoes and any metal clothing items before entering your gate for security purposes. Pack any watches or jewelry you wear to avoid the tedious task of removing it when passing through metal detectors. With that said, pack any gear you are bringing along strategically as well. Laptops and other electronic devices should be stored in cases or sleeves that are easily transported through conveyor belts.