A few days ago a coworker and I went through Security Checkpoint 2 at O’Hare. Dave was immediately behind me as we approached the conveyer belt for the magnetometer, but after I exited the checkpoint, he took about 2-3 minutes to catch up with me as I waited on the concourse. I’ve written about this in the past, but here are the keys to getting through the TSA checkpoint quickly:
- Wear slip on shoes
- Have your boarding pass handy (see below)
- Put your cell phone, wristwatch, and other similar (metallic) items in a zippered compartment in your bag well before getting to the checkpoint (for me, at the hotel)
- Men: no belt. Leave it in your bag and put it on after the checkpoint
- Car keys need to be inside a zippered compartment in your bag
- 3-1-1 liquids bag in an easily accessible pocket in your bag
- When you pack, do so in an orderly fashion; make it easier on the guy scanning your bag
- Nothing in your pockets except skinny wallet, cash, and boarding pass
- Know upfront how many plastic totes you need. For me, it’s usually one, for my jacket and 3-1-1 bag. If I’m going to opt to take my laptop out of my bag (see below), I’ll grab a 2nd tote
If the airport is small, or the checkpoint not busy, I take my MacBook Air out of my bag and put it in a plastic tote in the middle of my stuff as it enters the conveyor. If the checkpoint is busy, I leave it in my bag and let them re-run the bag (and MB Air separately) through if necessary. (Half the time they don’t bother, as it resembles an iPad.) The LAST thing I want to have happen is to somehow get stuck in the theatrical production while my $1500 laptop is sitting in a plastic tote with a bunch of people milling about.
To this last point: Be organized and disciplined, and above all else, do NOT let yourself get snagged by the metal detector or backscatter x-ray machine. If you do, your stuff has a much greater chance of walking away with someone else.
Other thoughts: if the line splits at some point and you have an option of going left or right, go left; more people will opt for going right. As you approach the magnetometers, look for business travelers and get in that line; avoid (sorry) families, old people, or anyone who looks clueless. They will slow you down.
Finally, I don’t bother retrieving my watch, cell phone, or belt until I’m at my gate. Travel safe!
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