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Don’t you hate when you get to the airport, maybe you’re running a bit late, and then the line for security looks like this?

airport-security-lines

I’ve never missed a plane because of a long security line, though that may just be a combination of not flying terribly often, and still being super paranoid about getting to the airport nice and early.

TSA Pre-check

Obviously one of the easiest ways to bypass (most) long security lines is to sign up for TSA Pre Check.  It does cost $85, but if you are a frequent air traveler, it’s probably worth it.  There are a few credit cards that will give you a rebate on it, such as the American Express Platinum card or the Citi Executive Platinum card.

We don’t fly super often, so haven’t ended up signing up for Pre Check, but at the rate we are earning miles and points, maybe it’s time to reconsider?

Other tips and tricks

Carolyn and I were in Las Vegas a few weeks ago for a conference, and after we checked out of our nice hotel, we made our way to the airport.  Our taxi dropped us off in Terminal 1 and we went inside.  We were flying Southwest out of Concourse C, and when we went in there, it was a zoo.

The security line was so long, and people were joining it at such a rapid rate, that they actually had an airport worker holding up a sign saying where the line started

line-starts-here-signWe were actually heading back to the American Express Centurion Lounge, which is in Concourse D, so we took a gamble and kept on going through the terminal past the giant security line.  Bingo!  The security line was literally empty – we walked right through.

Green line to the backed up Terminal C Security checkpoint, then orange line to the wide open Terminal D checkpoint

Green line to the backed up Terminal C Security checkpoint, then orange line to the wide open Terminal D checkpoint

Right at the end of my orange arrow, it looks something like this

las-vegas-concourse-cYou can walk over to Concourse C, or take the tram to Concourse D, which is what we did (to head to the lounge)

Other Airports

Obviously that particular trick will only work at Las Vegas McCarran airport.  But my point in writing it is that most larger airports have multiple security checkpoints, and it can pay to know where they are and how long they typically take.

TSA has a website and even a mobile app that supposedly tracks this, but from what I was seeing, because they aren’t maintained actually BY the TSA (instead by fellow travelers), the data isn’t super recent.  Still, it DOES give a list of the different checkpoints and where they are, so if you get to one that is backed up, you can investigate where the other checkpoints are.  In my experience, the ones that are at smaller terminals and/or international gates are often less crowded.

For Boston Logan airport, Fly and Dine has a tip that lets you buy a raw oyster for $2.75 in Terminal C at the Legal Seafood shop that gets you a “First Class” stamp on your Boarding Pass which lets you skip the regular line.

What about you?  What’s your worst security experience or your best tip for avoiding one?

 

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