• Post Falls Dam

  • Photographed by Tom Holman

Farragut State Park

Most of us love to travel but the worst part of it by far has to be the TSA security line. And, in the case of flights with multiple stops, having to go through it multiple times. Fortunately there are tips, tricks and wonderful TSA-approved programs that show you how to speed through airport security.

TSA PreCheck The Transportation Security Administration has more than 100 airports enrolled in PreCheck, which allows low-risk travelers to be expedited through participating U.S. checkpoints for domestic and international travel. This means you get faster lines and you don’t have to take off your belt, shoes or light jacket when you get to the screening area. It is worth every penny of the $85 one-time application fee. Check the website for eligibility requirements and it will also tell you about other Homeland Security Trusted Traveler Programs. For example, if you’re a frequent international flyer, for an additional $15, Global Entry will give you expedited clearance through immigration when you return to the U.S.

Check into airline priority screening lines. Almost every airline has a priority access lane and it usually only costs a few extra dollars per flight. For example, United, JetBlue and USAirways have these program. If you’re an airline credit card holder you might be able to access the line for free, just check the fine print because it depends on your status (doesn’t everything?) Of course, elite frequent flyers and those holding a business- or first-class ticket usually get priority screening line access.

Checkpoint don’ts. Especially around the holidays, traveling with food and/or gifts can be a challenge. Here’s a rule of thumb: if it’s liquid, aerosol or gel and is more than 3.4 oz, check, ship it or chuck it (if you don’t the agents will). Here’s a list of what the TSA won’t let through if it exceeds the designated size or can’t be effectively scanned. Duty-free shops now put their liquid wares in tamper-evident bags approved by the TSA, so you should be OK with that bottle of tequila you bought past the checkpoint in Cancun.

Take the right gear. Think slip-on shoes, TSA-friendly laptop cases, clear zip-up bags for your sundries and 3-oz refillable bottles. The better prepared you are… The better.

Take inventory of what you’ll have to shed. As you inch forward, review what you’re going to have to throw in the screening bins and begin loosening up what you can. Remember electronics go in their own bins; don’t make the agents send you back for a second bin. Smart travelers also travel light on the jewelry and go for stylish comfort that doesn’t require too many belts or buckles (again, no pajamas, please. Think of your fellow travelers.)

Have your documents ready. Meaning, have your ID and boarding pass in your hand when you’re in the security line. As much as the agents shout it out at just about every airport in the land, there’s always that someone who starts fumbling through his or her bag for the documents when they get to the head of the line. Don’t be that person.

Do you have any tips on how to speed through airport security? Share them with us! Safe Travels!

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