Remember the days it used to be fun and exciting to go to the airport and embark on your trip? Now with increased security, crowded airports and overbooked flights, things often take more time and patience. Yet airports are always working to streamline processes to make the customers’ experience faster and hopefully better. On recent trips to from Minneapolis to Dallas and Chicago, I noticed Expert Traveler security lanes are cropping up at more airports. That’s great news for savvy travelers.
But be warned — these lanes are self-select so you don’t have to be a frequent traveler to use them. Don’t be surprised to find people there who should be in the Casual or Family Traveler lanes.
Expert traveler security lanes
Here’s how to use the Expert Traveler security lanes like a pro.
1. Have your boarding pass and ID out
Before you get to the agent who will check your papers, take out your boarding pass and ID. Make sure they’re facing the right way when you hand them to the agent. Be friendly and polite but don’t engage in idle chitchat with the security personnel.
2. Wear slip-on shoes
Wear shoes that you can quickly remove when you get to the front of the line. Or, untie your shoes while you’re waiting in line so they’re ready to slip off when you get to the conveyor belt.
3. Remove your liquids
Don’t wait until you have a tray in front of you to start digging through your luggage for your bag of liquids. Take your liquids out while you’re waiting in line.
4. Take off your coat (or sweatshirt or sweater)
Don’t wait for the TSA agent to ask you to remove your jacket. Even if you think you can get by in your light-weight button up shirt, it’s better to play it safe. If you’re wearing anything that could be interpreted as outerwear, take it off.
5. Remove your laptop from your bag
Unless you have a TSA-approved laptop bag, you must take your laptop out of your bag. Do your research about your bag beforehand; don’t hold up the line. This also goes for your C-PAP machines and other devices.
6. Plan your trays
Before you get to the conveyor belt, know how many trays you’ll need. Grab your trays and move out of the way. Plan on one for your laptop, one for any small luggage (depending on the airport), and one for everything else. Some airports may require you to divide up your things further. If you have kids, help them get the trays and load their belongings as well.
7. Once you’re through security…
Take your tray(s), grab your things, and move out of the way. Be considerate and keep the line moving. If you need to tie your shoes or put your luggage back together, carry them with you to the chairs a few feet away. Do your best to get out of the way and do not stop suddenly.
The Expert Traveler security lanes are excellent for people who travel frequently. But anyone who considers himself an “expert traveler” can go through that line — even if he’s traveling with a 3 year-old and hasn’t flown in a decade. Just follow these tips to make sure you’re not holding up the line.
photo credit: TSA