1. Lose the laces.
Arguably the most irritating aspect of going through airport security is having to take off your shoes. Aside from that no-one wants to look at (or smell) your feet, it’s just a hassle. So wear shoes that don’t have laces—to shave off a few extra seconds on both ends of the line.
2. Sign up for ClearMe.
The quickest way to get yourself through the nightmare that is the airport is by grabbing a CLEARcard, which really will cut your trip through the security line down from thirty minutes to just five. Bring your CLEARcard and boarding pass to airport security and it’ll be a breeze.
3. Keep calm and carry-on.
Not only does checking bags add a whole lot of extra time to your airport experience, but these days it costs a ton of money, too. So just ditch it all together and pack light.
4. Check-in online.
There’s no reason to check-in at the airport anymore. Every airline offers online check-in, and often has a mobile version as well.
5. Get your dollars and cents online.
A little-known secret is that you can buy foreign currency online—and what’s more, many services offer commission-free rates and door-to-door service. It’s pretty unreal, and will eliminate the very real nightmare of having to exchange your dollars at the airport, which is usually more expensive, too.
6. Speak softly, and carry a security-friendly laptop bag.
Bet you didn’t know that there are now “security-friendly” laptop bags, meaning you don’t even have to deign to take your laptop out of its case, which is about as annoying as dealing with shoelaces. They’ll save you time and look pretty cool. Read more about ‘em here.
7. Don’t even think about showing up between 6:30-9:30am or 3:30-7:30pm.
Statistically, these time slots are the most horrifying in terms of flight traffic. Though it’s not always possible to control what times you can fly, whenever you can, avoid these hours like the plague.
8. Take off your pants and jacket.
Okay, not literally. But when you do have to remove your jacket at security, just have your cellphone, keys, wallet—whatever—all in it. That way, you don’t have to take the time to empty your pockets in the line.
9. Put your bathroom scale to use (for once), and weigh your bag(s) at home.
If you do have to check any baggage, make sure to take the extra (and well-worth it) minute to weigh it at home. That way, you can lighten it up and wholly avoid any chance at being nailed for an extra $50-100 if it weighs more than 50 pounds.
10. Leave the change and whatever crazy belt buckles you own at home.
Even if you have a super cool belt you totally want to show off on your vacation, it’s not worth wearing the day you travel. Any big belt buckle is going to set off the metal detector, so you’ll have to waste time taking it off and putting it on again. Same goes for spare change—are you really going to need that extra $1.06 in coins to buy a Starbucks at the airport?
11. Dress in your finest silks.
Well, maybe not silks (they make people uncomfortable), but definitely dress your best. You may not want to believe it, but it’s almost certainly a wise choice to dress up, because there may be a latent bias against anyone who’s looking like they just rolled out of bed and ran to the airport. Your hole-filled, dirty denim jacket might be cool in theory, but you might as well help eliminate any chance that you’ll be judged for your clothes when you’re in the security line.