These are the times that try fre­quent fliers’ souls – but there are ways to make them a lit­tle less try­ing

Business Traveler (USA) - - CONTENTS - Laura Mis­erez

These are the times that try fre­quent fliers’ souls – but there are ways to make them a lit­tle less try­ing

It’s no se­cret that we hate wait­ing in lines. One MIT study es­ti­mates that Amer­i­cans spend 2 to 3 years of their lives in queues; of course, that num­ber in­cludes slow-mov­ing, in­con­gru­ously-named ‘rush hour’ traf­fic, so the time we ac­tu­ally spend stand­ing in line is only a frac­tion of that – but it’s no less irk­some any­way. One of the most dreaded queues for the fre­quent trav­eler is se­cu­rity at the air­port. In most air travel sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys, se­cu­rity screen­ings con­sis­tently rank at the bot­tom of the list of agree­able air­port ex­pe­ri­ences. With a few sim­ple steps, how­ever, you can cut your wait time down, and make pass­ing through se­cu­rity eas­ier for you and oth­ers.

Trusted Trav­eler Pro­grams

Sev­eral coun­tries have im­ple­mented pro­grams that al­low fre­quent trav­el­ers to have a thor­ough back­ground check once ev­ery few years in lieu of be­ing fully screened each time they board a flight. The best known of these pro­grams op­er­ates in the US. The Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion (TSA) Precheck al­lows ap­proved US cit­i­zens to pass through air­port se­cu­rity in a separate, shorter queue and avoid re­quire­ments such as re­mov­ing lap­tops and liq­uids from their bags and tak­ing off their shoes.

Non-US cit­i­zens can also re­ceive TSA

Precheck when fly­ing out of cer­tain US air­ports by ap­ply­ing for Global En­try, an­other trusted trav­eler pro­gram. Global

En­try is a mem­ber­ship-based pro­gram that iden­ti­fies low-risk trav­el­ers and lets them pass through cus­toms via a quicker queue with an elec­tronic checkin upon ar­rival in the US. A Global

En­try mem­ber­ship costs $100 and lasts five years, though it re­quires a visit in per­son to a US Em­bassy for in­ter­view at in­fre­quent dates. In ad­di­tion pass­port hold­ers from other coun­tries may first have to join their own gov­ern­ment’s re­cip­ro­cal ver­sion of trusted trav­eler, in­clud­ing back­ground checks and fees. Look for coun­try-by-coun­try de­tails at


You can speed up the screen­ing process by sched­ul­ing your flight for an off-peak date. Avoid Fri­days and Sun­days, as these are the busiest days for va­ca­tion trav­el­ers. Sim­i­larly, Mon­day morn­ings are a prime time for busi­ness trav­el­ers. Leav­ing on a Tues­day or Wed­nes­day is your best bet if you’re try­ing to avoid the masses. Com­mon sense sug­gests avoid­ing hol­i­day week­ends and the dates around Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas. Fewer peo­ple to wade through makes life eas­ier not only for you, but also for the air­port staff – which leads to an­other way to en­sure a smooth trip through se­cu­rity.


Per­haps the most ob­vi­ous tip is also the most es­sen­tial: be­ing re­spect­ful and gra­cious to the se­cu­rity staff will make for a quicker, more pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one in­volved. Air­port se­cu­rity guards move thou­sands of peo­ple through the gates ev­ery day.

The guards can work long hours and through the hol­i­days. Their job is of­ten stress­ful and it’s im­per­a­tive they do it well. A sim­ple smile or thank you can go a long way. If you have a le­git­i­mate ques­tion, ask it in a po­lite, non-ac­cusatory tone of voice. And above all else, be early enough to the air­port that you’re not plac­ing an ex­tra bur­den on them by ask­ing them to rush you to your flight.


Don’t be the per­son who holds up the line be­cause you haven’t got your be­long­ings ready for in­spec­tion. A jacket with sev­eral pock­ets can be a time-saver when you’re rush­ing to col­lect your wal­let, keys, phone and watch from the con­veyor belt. Slip-on shoes are quicker to take off and put back on if there isn’t any­where to sit. You can also avoid re­mov­ing your belt by wear­ing one with a non-me­tal buckle. And make sure any items that must be scanned sep­a­rately (lap­top, liq­uids, etc.) are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. The per­son be­hind you won’t ap­pre­ci­ate wait­ing for you to dump the con­tents of your brief­case onto the con­veyor belt and fish around for your iPad. Just have ev­ery­thing ready to go.

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