How To Travel With Ease

Whether traveling for business or pleasure, you want to have an uneventful and easy experience getting safely to your destination. This article describes the top tips and tricks on how to best prepare for upcoming airline travel. 

Each year millions of people travel by air for business or pleasure. The one thing that everyone has in common, regardless of the reason for travel, is that they want to arrive safely at their destination with as little inconvenience as possible. However, navigating through airports and long security lines can sometimes prove challenging or add unnecessary stress to your travel experience. 

If you are planning to travel by air, either domestically or internationally, continue reading to learn some tips and tricks. You will see how to make your experience easier and ensure that your trip will be seamless from the moment you walk into the airport until you board the plane.  

Why Is There So Much Airport Security?

Although airports have always had some kind of security procedure for travelers, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, the amount and level of security increased dramatically. With over 730 million people traveling on passenger jets each year, and all the luggage that goes with them, it is no wonder that airports need to take great care in screening both people and their baggage for dangerous items. On average, the TSA screens 4.9 million carry-on bags, alone, each day. 

Although waiting in a long security line can be frustrating before arriving at the gate to board your flight, you can be thankful that the security agents are thoroughly performing their duties. Each day these agents make sure that the bags and people that pass into the boarding area of the airport do not contain or possess explosives, weapons, and drugs. In addition, the agents can also identify possible cases of money smuggling or the transporting of other illegal objects.  

How Much Time Does It Take to Get Through Airport Security? 

The amount of time that you need to plan for when it comes to the TSA security checkpoints varies significantly and depends on numerous factors. You need to consider the airport's location, the time and day of your flight, and any other factors that may lead to significant delays, such as weather or flight cancellations. 

On average, a person can expect to spend between 15 to 30 minutes getting through airport security before getting to the gate. A way to quickly check a real-time view of the expected wait time at your scheduled airport by visiting the TSA Wait Times website or downloading the official MyTSA App provided by Homeland Security. Simply look for the location of the airport from which your flight leaves and click on the name to view the current expected security wait times. 

How to Get Through the Security Line Faster 

If you want to make sure that you do not have to wait in lengthy security lines when arriving at your airport, you can investigate options that allow you to bypass the line and/or get screened through a preferred line that is typically shorter. 

One of the most common ways to speed up the process is to sign up for TSA PreCheck. This government program uses a risk-based approach based on your application information to determine if you can expedite your security screening process. Travelers with TSA PreCheck go through separate screening lines and do not have to remove their shoes, belts, jackets, or their laptops from their bags. There are fees for this service. 

Another option for expedited security is a CLEAR pass. This option is offered through Delta airlines and replaces your ID with your biometrics, allowing you to use a specialized lane to pass through security quickly. Note that not all airports have a CLEAR security line.  Expect to pay a fee for this service. 

Finally, if you purchase your ticket for a premium class or have elite status through an airline or other program (such as Delta Diamond Medallion or American Express Platinum), you will often have dedicated expedited security lines as well.  

How Much Time Should You Allow Yourself at The Airport Before Your Flight 

When flying, a general rule is to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled flight departure (especially for an international flight). At a minimum, you should arrive no later than an hour before your flight. Giving yourself this much time allows you to park your car, check your bags, and get through the security lines. No one wants to feel stressed running to their gate at the last minute because of an unexpected delay. Even if you have expedited security credentials, the unplanned can happen. Aim to get to the airport early enough to avoid stress and allow yourself time to use the bathroom, eat, and relax before boarding your flight. 

International vs. National Flying 

You will need to consider other things if you are flying internationally versus if you fly domestically. For example, you need to remember your passport to fly internationally. In contrast, if flying domestically, the airline will only require a driver's license or ID card with your boarding pass. You will most likely also have to check-in at a different section of the airport than you usually would for a domestic flight. 

The check-in process for an international flight will often take more time as well. You usually cannot check in online for these types of flights (like you can for domestic flights) due to paperwork that needs completing. Additionally, the security screening lines may require more frequent or more in-depth checks, particularly for flights going over the ocean. For these reasons, you should always allow yourself extra time at the airport for international flights than you would if you were flying on a domestic flight. 

Finally, when you land in another country after taking an international flight, you will need to present your passport, your visitor visa (if required by the destination country), and answer questions from a customs agent. You will also need to declare certain things you have brought into the country. This means you fill out a form (usually the flight attendant gives them to you) stating the items you purchased and brought back with you. The airline should inform you about what things need to be declared ahead of time. Failing to declare required items could result in fines or penalties.