Galley Gossip: 5 tips for getting through airport security quickly

With Thanksgiving fast approaching and Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s following right behind it, more people than ever will be flying in the upcoming weeks. That means only one thing. Holiday travelers will soon be taking over the airports. It won’t be pretty. Long lines will form at security, the kind made even longer by passengers who have yet to master the techniques needed to pass through airport security swiftly and smoothly. That’s why it’s so important to get to the airport early.

As a working flight attendant I’m able to flash my crew ID and bypass the line – one of the few remaining perks of working for an airline. Hey, don’t get mad at me. Because the last time a passenger threw a fit, pushing me out of the way while screaming about his flight that was about to depart in five minutes, he not only wound up on my flight, forty five mintues later, but on my side of the business class cabin. It was an awkward flight for both of us.

When I’m not traveling in uniform, I always pick the line that has the most business travelers in it, regardless of how long it may be. Frequent fliers know the drill. They’re quick, they’re fast, and they’re always ready to go. As the mother of a three year-old, I know what’s it’s like traveling with kids. It ain’t easy. But by the time the family of four realizes that the stroller needs to be placed on the belt along with the car seat, and that little Johnny’s shoes must come off – even if he is only six months old – I’ll be long gone, on my way to the gate. I’m not just a flight attendant, I’m a commuting flight attendant, so if there’s one thing I know besides uncomfortable seats and bad food, it’s how to pass through airport security quickly.

Here are five tips to get you through security faster…

1. BE PREPARED – Have your ticket and ID out and ready to show the TSA Agent before you approach the podium. Otherwise step aside! And take your bags along with you. Often times I hear passengers complaining about TSA, but it’s always the passengers who are running late, traveling with too many bags, and unfamiliar with airport procedures I find to be a problem.

2. TAKE IT ALL OFF – So what if there are five passengers ahead of you! Don’t wait until it’s officially your turn to begin the strip down. Now is the perfect time to de-shoe, whip off the belt, and remove the jacket. Stop complaining about it and just do it – please! And while you’re at it, place your cell phone, loose coins and any jewelry that could set the alarm off inside your bag. Really, you don’t want to keep going back and forth through the X-ray machine, do you?

3. GRAB A BIN (or two) – There’s not a lot of time or even room to get organized on the table, so why not begin the process of preparing the bin on the floor? Toss shoes and jackets into one bin, the computer (and only the computer) inside the other bin. NOTE: TSA requires computers to be scanned separately when passing through the X-ray machine. Stack the computer bin on top of the clothing bin and slide it along with your foot.

4. SHARE THE SPACE – With a rollaboard, a tote bag, and two plastic bins, you could very well take up the entire space on the metal table. This will only slow the security line down even more. Try placing the two bins that have been stacked together on the table while you continue rolling your larger bag behind you, the smaller bag resting on top of the rolling bag. Now other passengers can get their stacked bins up off the floor, moving the entire process along for everyone.

5. NOW GO! – It’s your turn. Grab the rollaboard and huck it up on the belt, sending it along first. The smaller bag follows. Separate the stacked bins. Send the computer bin first. Last, but not least, your shoes go. Only because no one wants to wait behind the passenger hopping on one foot, trying to get dressed, as the bags smash into each other causing a bag jam on the other side. Now walk through the X-ray machine and quickly yank the rolling bag off the belt. Place the smaller bag on top of the rolling bag. Push the two bins down, down, down to the very end of the belt. Slide the computer into your smaller bag and your feet into your shoes. If there’s a bench nearby available, use it!

Good job. See ya on the flight!

Photos courtesy of Redjar and Redjar