Airport security is perhaps the least enjoyable aspect of travelling and with security on the increase in airports all over the world, it’s only getting more and more time consuming. Wait times at security check points can get a bit ridiculous, particularly at busy airports, and if you’re cutting it fine to make your flight it can mean the beginning of your holiday is far more stressful than it needs to be. As experienced travellers, we know that getting through airport security is a refined science so we’ve put together the top five tips to get you through airport security faster.
This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing what an affect the hustle and bustle of an airport can have on our brains. We’ve all seen that one person at the security checkpoint fumbling around for their important paperwork, holding up the line. Don’t be that person. Passports and boarding passes can easily end up at the bottom of a bag or forgotten in a pocket. Ensure that as soon as you enter the security line your ID and boarding pass is at the ready and able to be presented should you be requested to do so. Being prepared will help you pass through security much faster and will also help those in line behind you to get through as quickly as possible.
Familiarising yourself with all the rules and restrictions beforehand will help you save time and possibly an embarrassing situation. We once saw a very well-dressed Japanese businessman down a whole bottle of craft beer at 7am because he didn’t know he couldn’t take it through. An admirable effort perhaps, but not the best look at a security checkpoint. Remember to remove your laptop and place it in its own tray. Ensure any liquids are less than 100ml and stowed in a clear plastic bag. Place any change, keys, belt buckles or jewellery in a tray for screening. If you’re not sure if it will set off the metal detector, just take it off anyway. Once you’re through, collect your belongings as quickly as possible and move away from the screening area to get yourself together.
If you don’t travel regularly you could be forgiven for thinking the shortest line is the one you should join. However, size doesn’t matter and a short line doesn’t automatically equal a quicker line. Look at the kind of people waiting in line, not just the number. A handful of business travellers are likely to move through security much quicker than a couple of families, particularly those with young children. Older travellers and larger groups such as sporting teams can also cause delays. A good tip is to aim for the far left or far right security lanes as most inexperienced travellers walk straight ahead to the most obvious lines and usually end up waiting longer as a result.
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’. Well when it comes to navigating your way quickly through the airport, the job you want is to get through the security checkpoint as quickly as possible. You’re going to have to remove your coat, hat and in some cases even your shoes, so don’t wear lots of layers or complicated shoes or clothing. Stick to something comfortable and easy to remove if necessary. Try to keep jewellery and accessories to a minimum and take anything off that might set off the metal detector. Every second counts, so don’t waste time fiddling with complicated straps, buckles, laces, buttons and zips. Once your through, grab the essentials and go. Don’t hold up the line tucking your shirt just so and putting all your bangles back on one by one. Wait until you get to your gate and get yourself together at your own leisure.
As long as you’ve travelled by plane sometime this century, you should know that all liquids and gels must be 100ml or less and fit into a clear sealable bag. You don’t have to shell out for uber expensive travel-sizes of all your favourite products, refillable bottles and containers stocked with product from home is fine. Clear sealable bags help to keep everything organised and avoid a lotion explosion all over your clothes, but they also help speed up the process at security. Stash your toiletries in the front pocket of your carry-on bag and when it’s time to pass through security just unzip the pocket and place your clear bag of goods in the tray next to your carry-on and move on through with speed. You’ll look like a totally experienced globe trotter and the security agents will love you.
Which brings us to our final point.
Always uphold the golden rule – be polite! After all, the security agents are just trying to do their job and a very important one at that! You’d be surprised how much further a smile and a kind word can get you. Remember, airport security checkpoints screen millions of people every day and it’s no walk in the park for screening agents either. When in doubt, keep things friendly and always maintain a bit of perspective. After all, each step in line is one step closer to your next holiday!