The Consummate Traveler – The Art of Getting Through Airport Security Lines Quickly

May 28, 2015 Updated: May 28, 2015

This past week, I returned home from Mumbai, India after a three week business trip. My voyage was not only memorable because it was one of the longest direct flights I have had to endure (16.5 hours), but I also had to go through three different security checks at the airport which was a world record for me. Although this process can be very frustrating, with a little bit of preparation you can zip in and out in no time. Here are my best tips for getting through security lines as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Manage your layers – What you wear on the day of your trip is an important decision. Layers are a
really great idea to handle the extreme temperatures of hot airports and cold airplane cabins, but they can be quite annoying to juggle on a security line. My technique is to begin peeling off my layers just after leaving the check-in counter. This includes removing and packing away any scarves, hats, coats, and sweaters. Getting prepared this far in advance makes your trip through the line more organized and less apt to lose something.

Pick shoes carefully – I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people struggling with buckles,
laces, or fussy high heels at security lines. While I do appreciate a stylish flair, a long journey is not the time to worry about making fashion statements. On this past trip, I wore slip on ballet flats, which were perfect for getting on and off with ease. To make your experience less awkward, look for velcro or slip-on athletic shoes, walking shoes or fashionable flats. Also be sure to wear some type of socks so that you do not have to be barefoot while walking through screening machines.

No metal objects – To avoid additional security screening of your carry-on luggage, it is important to
be aware of objects that can be perceived as a weapon while passing through the x-ray machine. Anything with sharp edges or metal in nature is best packed away in your checked luggage. I made this mistake myself on this trip and had an extra examination due to a pair of tweezers in my bag. Apparently, they looked like scissors on camera.

Take out all electronics – On one occasion in London, I had a nerve wracking 35 minute dissection
and bomb residue testing of all the contents of my carry-on bags because I had not taken out my IPAD to put through the X-ray machine. Since every airport has different rules, I was not aware that it needed to come out and left it inside of my computer bag. Ever since that experience, I take a conservative approach and place all of my electronics (with the exception of my mobile phone) on a tray to ensure it goes through in full view.

Understand carry-on policies – Before you leave for the airport, it is important to research the
airline’s website to understand the number of carry-ons allowed. In some airports if you are over this limit, you may not even be able to enter the security checkpoint. A good rule of thumb is to limit your carry-on bags to two items. I have had a number of dramatic occasions where I struggled to squeeze my overstuffed handbag into another piece of luggage to consolidate my bags down.

As always, I wish you the happiest of travels!