Traveling home for the holidays this week? No one likes standing in the security line at the airport, and if you are a frequent flier it can be a real hassle. Whether you want to streamline your approach to security or get yourself in a special line, check out a few suggestions on how to reduce your wait time and reclaim your sanity:
Invest in CLEAR. To be clear, CLEAR costs. Subscribers pay about $15 per month, so it’s only worth it if you are a frequent business traveler. You also have to hand over your fingerprints, iris image and multiple forms of identification. Once you have your CLEARCARD you can leave from select airports only. This service might become more attractive when more U.S. airports participate in the program.
Enroll in TSA PRE-Check. Ten popular airlines participate in TSA Pre-Check. Fork over a non-refundable $85 application fee and submit your personal information and fingerprints for quick access. If you haven’t committed a felony and aren’t on a terrorist watch list, you will receive a Known Traveler Number. Use this number to purchase tickets with participating airlines. You will usually be invited into the PRE-check express lane at the airport, but it’s no guarantee.
Consider a Trusted Traveler Program instead. If you participate in Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI, you can qualify for TSA PRE-check lines in addition to expedited North American border crossing lines.
Check out airline loyalty programs. Some airline loyalty programs help make screening easier. They will waive your cost of the PRE-check, or provide you access to elite security lines at airports.
If you don’t want to spend big bucks for a shorter wait time, try these tips instead:
* Pick the fastest security agent. If you are a pro at picking the fastest checkout line at the grocery store, now is the time to use your skills. Sometimes it isn’t about the shortest line, but the most efficient agent.
* Don’t push the 3-1-1 rule. Peanut butter, jam, gravy and cranberry sauce won’t make it through security even if they are your lunch for the day. Treat these items just as you would lotions, toothpaste and other liquids and gels.
* Keep gifts unwrapped. No one wants to have their Christmas presents greedily torn apart by TSA officers, but if they need too, they will. Wrap your gifts after you’ve flown.
* Be a neat packer. Carefully packed suitcases are frequently easier to scan with the X-ray machine. If TSA agents do need to open your bag, you will be saved the embarrassment of your suitcase’s contents exploding all over the airport.
* Organize carry-ons. Once you get to the X-ray machine, it’s best if you are ready to go. Stow your laptop in an easy-to-reach space and have your 3-1-1 bag ready. A few moments of planning beforehand can save you hold-ups and stress while you’re in line.
* Plan a sensible outfit. Your airport outfit might have to be a little boring in order to speed through security. You don’t want to have to take off jewelry, belts, scarves, coats and lace-up boots, so today is the day to wear slip on shoes and a simple, one-layer outfit with no accessories.
* Have your documents ready. Get out your drivers’ license, passport and boarding pass before you reach the agent. This keeps you from having to root around in your pockets and bags while you make others wait.
Now that you’ve got your holiday travel hacks and secrets behind seamless security travel, where are you off to first? Share your holiday travel destinations below!