Tips for smooth air travel — Getting through the airport and security with ease

Air travel can be a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little preparation, you can speed through security and make it to your gate without any problems.

Getting there early, organizing your carry-on, looking at the airline’s website before you leave, signing up for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry –– these are just a few ways that being prepared can help lower stress levels and increase your chances of having a good flight.

Get there early

    Airports are big places with lots of people coming and going. For some travelers — particularly those who haven’t flown before or in a long time — all this unfamiliarity can be anxiety-inducing or flat-out overwhelming.

    To minimize long lines and stress-related meltdowns, the TSA recommends arriving two to three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. That should give you enough time to check in with your airline (you can usually do this online or using the carrier’s app), drop off any checked bags at the counter (if applicable) and wind your way through the security screening process so you’re at the gate well ahead of boarding.

    Some tips for saving even more time: Use packing cubes to compress clothing; wear your largest shoes on the plane; keep all chargers and cords organized in one small pouch; use another bag (or section of a bag) for pens, headphones, disinfecting wipes and other frequently used items like medicine; bring an empty water bottle that you can fill up once you’re past security so you’ll stay hydrated during long flights.

    Consider signing up for TSA PreCheck or CLEAR expedited screening lanes if you plan to fly often in the next few years. The programs cost $85-$100 per person but will save countless hours standing in line at airports. Also consider booking nonstop or direct flights instead of those with stops (especially short layovers) to minimize the risk of delays and maximize convenience.

    Pack well

      Travel is stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. The key to a seamless trip through the airport — and an enjoyable flight experience overall — is staying organized.

      Keep electronics and their chargers (plus cord organizers), as well as other frequently accessed items like medicine, pens, headphones and disinfecting wipes in separate pouches or compartments within your carry-on bag; this will help keep them from becoming tangled during security screening.

      Use packing cubes to condense your clothing; this will free up more space in your suitcase or backpack for shoes, accessories and anything else you’d rather not wear on your person –– potentially expediting the security screening process so you reach your destination faster.

      Rolling clothes instead of folding them can also save space — especially if you’re using a soft-sided carry-on bag that’s bulging at the seams. And don’t forget to wear your biggest clothing items onto the plane (e.g., jacket, hat, boots) so they don’t take up valuable real estate inside your luggage.

      Even with PreCheck or Clear, it is important to follow all TSA guidelines. Don’t forget your ID or driver’s license, boarding pass and any other necessary documents; and be polite; follow instructions without yelling (it’s not just TSA agents who yell at rude passengers — airport staff are doing their best to get you on your flight as quickly as possible!). Airport workers have their hands full!

      Be Ready for Security

        Flying can be daunting at first, but it gets easier with experience – especially when you learn how to navigate an airport efficiently. This guide will walk you through the entire process from booking a flight to arriving at the gate.

        Arriving early can help avoid long security lines, particularly during peak travel times when flights are usually busier and lines can be longer. Starting check-in or going through security early also allows for ample relaxation time before a flight and eliminates last-minute rushing or stress. Additionally, being prepared for security means packing appropriately with items that won’t set off metal detectors because nobody wants those lines!

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