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How to avoid long TSA lines at the airport

As passengers and airlines begin to get frustrated about long TSA lines at the airport, unfortunately it’s a reality we’re all going to be facing this summer. But, there is hope for getting through airport security a little quicker. Here’s how.

You think you’ve planned your trip out perfectly. Arrive at the airport 2 hours in advance should leave you plenty of of time to check your bags, whiz through airport security and have time for a touch of duty-free shopping before it’s time to board. This might be true in some cases but it’s not the case at some of the country’s biggest airpots where under-staffed TSA is running security. Here’s how to get through quicker.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck

It costs $85 but it lasts for five years. PreCheck members can go through a specially designated line at U.S. airports. You don’t have to remove your shoes, belts or jacket at security. You don’t even have to take your laptop or liquids out of your carry-on bag. This makes the screening process a breeze! In order to apply, you do need to visit an enrolment center to be fingerprinted and provide documentation and the fee.

Traveling international? Enroll in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program. It provides TSA PreCheck eligibility plus easy entry back into the United States.

Choose off-peak flights

Airports get really busy Monday to Fridays in the mornings, late-afternoons and early evenings. The quietest times are typically Tuesday and Wednesday, around mid-day. This is a great time to book flights if you want to avoid the lines. There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, mid-day on Saturdays in Miami are super busy because all the cruise ships dock at the same time to grabbing a flight from Miami at that time is chaos.

Prep for screening

This may be common sense, but it can really cut down your time getting through and everyone else’s if you wear slip on shoes, take your laptops and liquids out of your bag while you’re waiting in line, empty your pockets, etc. Wear pants that don’t require a belt; it’s one less thing to take on and put back on again at security. No one wants to be behind someone struggling to untie their hiking shoes…

A photo posted by TSA (@i_love_tsa) on

Arrive early

We know you’ve heard this one a million time but it pays to get there early. While TSA recommends arriving 2 hours early for a domestic flight and 3 hours early for an international take-off, we suggest getting to the airpots 3 hours before all flights. The wait time to get through security can be as long as 2 hours at some airports so it’s better to be on the safe side.

Are you travelling soon? Be ready and let us know how long your security line wait was on Twitter!

Img: Denver Airport by oddharmonic / Flickr cc.

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