9 simple hacks to speed your way through airport security

Posted on Posted in Travel, update

We stand like cattle, shuffling forward, penned in by keepers in blue blazers, turn and turn again, awaiting the next stop.

Photo Credit: Kris Krug via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Kris Krug via Compfight cc

As I walked towards the departures gate I saw a long line and a short line. The short line had the Global Entry logo and I knew my Nexus card would get me through. My moment of happiness turned bitter as the security guard pointed to the TSA pre clearance logo.

Confused? So was I.

Anyways the guard at the line certainly wasn’t letting me through.

I returned to my line-up and my novel. Everyone needs a book when they travel. The line shuffled a step forward. After twenty long minutes of snaking back and forth I heard an urgent voice over my shoulder.

“Excuse me. I’m late. Do you mind if I cut in front?”

He looked frantic. I let him pass. No big deal. Everyone else in line agreed with a few quiet grumbles “why didn’t he get here early like the rest of us?” He reached the head of the line. At that moment the gate agent, who told me off a moment before, began to strut his authority. Something he clearly enjoyed.

Sir.” He shouted for all to hear. “There is a line for a reason. Come with me.”

He beckoned, and marched the man back to the beginning of the line. The man protested. Explained he had an international flight in 20 minutes. Explained how he had asked each of us for permission.


I get it

The reality is that I have been in the latecomers shoes before. Sometimes I have been late due to my own forgetfulness – it happens. More often I have been late because my connecting flight was delayed, my bag was the last off of the carousel, or I was stopped at the police roadblock. Interruptions are as normal to travel as sushi in Vancouver and traffic in Toronto

The agent stood firm in his polyester jacket and laminated badge of authority. By then the crowd in the line had heard enough. Initial grumbles turned to shouts of support for the latecomer. A few in the line mumbled comments about the moral character of the gate agents mother. Sensing an uprising the agent relented and the man walked to the front of the line once more.

I hope he made his flight, but he probably hit another line up at his gate.

Lining up like airplane cattle is tedious. Here are some clues on how to make it through a security checkpoint as fast as anyone with a million aeroplane points.


Check out the tips!


1. Get a Nexus Card.  If you live in North American you might want to give a foreign government all of your information (Canada shares with American and vice versa) in order to get the card. You will feel like a travel princess as you are escorted to the front of the line in border crossings across North America.

2. Pack Carry-on Only. People who don’t have to wait for luggage get to the next line-up earlier. I can pack enough in carry-on for just about any trip. If you have clothes for 10 days or so, you should be fine, people in other countries do laundry too. Get yours done.

3. Pick the right line. If you have a choice, choose the lineup filled with businessmen and businesswomen. They have been there before and will often move more quickly than a shorter line (especially if the shorter line has children or people wearing flip-flops and shorts).

4. Wear light shoes. They are more comfortable on the plane, probably don’t have metal in them so you can wear them through the x-ray machine, and if you have to take them off it won’t take long to put them back on.

5. Get to know your clothes. Jackets and sweaters always must be taken off so don’t wear them if you don’t have to. Some belt buckles set off the detector and others don’t – if the line up is not long, keep your belt on and see if it will pass. It will save you time in the future if it does. Don’t wear a shirt with metal buttons.

6. Keep your fluids on the outside. You know that zippered compartment at the top of your carry-on bag? That is where you should put your 100 ml containers in their clear plastic baggie. A quick zip and you have them in the tray. No need to open anything.

7. Empty pockets early. Coins, phone, wallet, earphones, and everything in your pockets can go into your carry-on while you are waiting in the line-up. Don’t put it in the bin to be spilled as trays and passengers pile up.

8. Walk through the detector and keep moving. If you did not hear a beep you don’t need to wait for the security guard with the wand. Immediately walk over to get your stuff from the x-ray machine.

9. When security picks you! Don’t worry it is probably some metal thing you have in your bag that looks a bit unusual. Tell them: 1. “Yes, this is my bag” and 2. “Yes, you have my permission to take a look inside” and 3. if you know what the thing probably is “Can I show you what I think it is?”  Spend the time they are searching putting  back on your belt, and putting stuff back in your pockets. (If they are being power-hungry you can ask them to put your bag back together as well)

Granted none of these suggestions will save you a lot of time on their own, but all together they add up. Also, when you do these things, security will recognize that you have been here before and they might even treat you like a real human being!

What secrets can you share for getting through security as fast as possible?

Mark Crocker

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