Save Your Money: 7 Tricks I Actually Use to Breeze Through Airport Security
“Airport security is the one part of the air travel journey where there’s no special privileges other than perhaps a separate lane to stand in. It sucks for everyone equally, and generally feels like watching a movie you’ve seen 5,000 times on slow motion, with the white noise volume turned up.”
Save Your Money: 7 Tricks I Actually Use to Breeze Through Airport Security
The paragraph you just read came from this article which was written by Gilbert Ott of GodSaveThePoints; and although the advice given by him is certainly credible, I kept shaking my head and thought to myself no, I do this instead.
Unlike his article which suggests what you should do, this article written by me only tells you what I do — which has worked for me in my travels around the world over the years. What works for me may not necessarily work for you.
Let us get started…
1. Pack Your Belt, Your Jewelry and Other Metallic Wearables
I never wear any type of jewelry. In fact, if I did wear jewelry, I would leave it at home. Why carry something which at best serves an optionally aesthetic purpose with an increased chance of either losing it or having it stolen?
I do not wear a belt while I am traveling. Instead, I keep it rolled up in my bag either around a round object or within the cavity of one of my shoes, if I am bringing an extra pair of shoes with me.
2. Invest In A Laptop Computer Pocket? I Do This Instead…
Although this is good advice, I do something even simpler: that ubiquitous laundry bag has yet another important use for me, as I find that many of them are perfectly sized to fit a laptop computer inside. The excess part of the laundry bag is folded over; and I keep the laptop computer at the top of my bag, which I carry aboard the airplane with me. Unzip, pull out, get it screened, slip back into the laundry bag and put it back in the top of the bag. Easy and effective.
In case you were wondering, I have never damaged any electronics during my travels over the years; and because the bulk of my belongings in my bag consists of soft clothing, the laptop computer is remarkably protected.
If I am concerned about protecting it even further, I simply take a layer of soft clothing and place it on top of the laptop computer. Voilà — instant added protection in seconds.
3. Wear Slip On Shoes? I Do This Instead…
Slip on shoes can be nice and easy to use; but the agents at some airports may order to to remove them anyway — especially if the sole of the slip on shoe has some thickness and substance to it.
Rather, invest in those blue booties — similar to what personnel in hospitals use to cover their feet — and place them over your feet after removing your shoes. I lucked out numerous times because I had acquired mine at airports which gave them away to passengers free of charge at security checkpoints.
If you absolutely cannot get any pairs of booties for free, you can purchase 50 pairs of them for $15.00 or so — and they will last you for years if you use each pair more than once. Each pair usually lasts me at least an entire year. Bonus: booties take up virtually no room in my bag; and because I reuse them, I keep them stored in a small plastic zippered bag.
Only once have I been told to remove the booties off of my feet — and that was by some agent of the Transportation Security Administration at one of the major airports which serves the greater New York City metropolitan area. I was forced to go through the scanner wearing my socks. Although that annoyed me, it was no problem: as I do not like placing anything that touched the dirty floor of an airport security checkpoint back in my shoes or sneakers, I simply replaced the socks I was wearing with a clean pair of socks — which is why I always carry one or two extra pairs of socks with me…
…and that is another trick you might consider using: socks — by doing just what I explained that I did.
4. Avoid Tricky Layers
I will defer to Gilbert Ott on this one, as I rarely ever wear layers of clothing because my body pumps out heat like you would not believe. In fact, I do not even like wearing a jacket or coat while I am driving a car — let alone aboard an airplane.
“Layers are nice when you travel. Sometimes it’s too cold, sometimes way too hot. But when you prepare to go through the scanners, leave the layers in your bag, or pick some like a zip up sweatshirt or jacket which are easy to remove. You always need to remove layers when going through security, so having to peel off a tight turtleneck and other items will slow (everyone) down.”
5. Buy A $5 Clear Toiletry Bag? I Do This Instead…
Save your money. Clear toiletry bags are still available for the taking at some airports worldwide for passengers at security checkpoints while waiting in line — and these cheap bags last a long, long time for me.
The last time I picked up some of these clear toiletry bags was at the airports which serve the greater District of Columbia metropolitan area. If you see any, go ahead and take a few.
6. Pick The Right Lane — But This May Not Be Enough
“In some airports, you end up with a dealers choice. Picking the screening lane to jump into can make all the difference”, according to Gilbert Ott. “Look for the obvious signs like total amateurs wearing multiple layers, people who have lots of jewellery, students etc and avoid them wherever possible. This isn’t polite, sure, but it can save a lot of time.”
Another telltale sign is anyone who seems to be clueless to what is going on around him or her. Perhaps he or she is busy talking on a mobile telephone or checking documents to see what to do next.
As I was born and raised in New York and went to school and worked there, I naturally developed a technique through which I was able to walk from midtown to downtown without having to stop at one traffic light — and that requires walking fast. When I am heading to the customs area or security checkpoint of any airport, I bypass the slower walkers who are busy concentrating on something else or are self-absorbed for some reason — but without bumping into them or knocking them over, of course.
A great place to bypass the crowds is a staircase. Most people will use the escalators to slowly get from one floor to another. I use the stairs — either up or down — and bypass those throngs of people on my way towards the airport security checkpoint or customs area. I save a lot of time this way and am usually on my way faster.
7. Pay For Global Entry — If It Works For You
Gilbert Ott wrote that “Global Entry is the thing that makes entering the United States a fast and breezy cakewalk. It’s also the thing which gets TSA PreCheck thrown in, which allows you to keep laptops in bags and shoes on through security in the USA. It comes with quite a few credit cards, so it’s worth looking into. Why pay when your credit card can cover it for you?”
Even if I had a credit card which provided Global Entry or PreCheck free of charge, I do not like the idea of paying the government to have my personal information.
I expect a lot of responses in the Comments section below arguing with me on this one; but that is how I feel — and I am okay with it. You do not have to agree with me. I am not advising you to avoid Global Entry or any other trusted traveler program. Absolutely do it if it works for you.
Cost: $0.00 — and that depends…
As I stated, what works for me may not work for you — but I simply wanted to reveal additional options to you for getting through airport security checkpoints a little faster…
…and perhaps travel lighter in the process while saving a little bit of money.
Of course, if all of the lines at an airport security checkpoint are choked with irritated people, little can be done about that, as you just have to exercise some patience and wait it out…
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.