Thanksgiving is famously known as one of the busiest travel times of the entire year – and 2021 won’t be an exception. TSA is preparing for travel volumes to reach 2019 pre-pandemic levels as millions of people across the country plan to visit family and friends over the holidays.
However, as airports across the U.S. are still plagued with COVID-19-related staffing shortages, already anticipated long wait times are expected to be even worse. This means bigger crowds, longer lines, and more delays.
That’s why we’re sharing top tips and hacks for getting through airport security in the shortest possible time.
1. Download the MyTSA app
Available for iOS and Google Play, not only does the MyTSA app tell you which items you can and can’t bring through security, it also displays current security wait times and identifies PreCheck lanes in airports.
Ahead of your flight, use this handy app to reference the TSA packing list and double check that you’re not bringing anything that can slow you down in security. Don’t forget to monitor check-in times for the best window to arrive at the airport.
2. Gather COVID-19 travel documents before your airport arrival
Domestic travelers don’t need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to board a flight within the U.S. (with the exception of Hawaii to bypass a quarantine mandate), but several international destinations have entry requirements, and all travelers flying into the U.S. from another country, including returning U.S. citizens, must show a negative test to board the flight under new rules that took effect earlier this month.
Make sure to have your vaccination card handy and any other required documents handy, and ensure the information on your card matches your photo ID.
3. Drop the unnecessary tech
It can be tempting to bring all of your digital devices to pass the time on flights, but since TSA mandates that all personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone must be removed from your carry-on for x-ray screening, we have to ask ourselves: do we really need all of these devices?
To minimize airport security time, pack only your essential electronic devices whether that’s a personal laptop, tablet, or work computer.
For travelers with many large electronic devices, you may want to consider investing in a TSA-approved laptop bag, so you won’t have to deal with the headache of removing your laptop and other gadgets from your carry-on and put it in a separate bin ever again!
4. Dress smart
It’s a fact: the fewer accessories you wear, the faster you can get through the scanner. Tuck large metal jewelry pieces into your carry-on bag before you go through the security checkpoint, or, if you can, keep jewelry to a minimum and leave all keys and extraneous items at home.
Wear shoes that require minimal effort to take off and put back on. Leave the metal accessories like belts to a minimum and you’ll be passing through security in a breeze. Oh, and don’t forget your face mask! It’s still required in all major US airports.
5. Buy it, don’t fly it.
While road trips might allow you to bring razors, scissors, a pocketknife, a corkscrew, or other utility items, you shouldn’t fly with them— at least, not in a carry-on. If you absolutely need one of these, put them in a checked bag or buy a cheap alternative at your destination. The fewer questionable items you fly with, the faster you’ll get on the plane.
Travel safe and travel smart this holiday season! Keep these tips in mind and make going through TSA a breeze.
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