Do This One Thing to Get Through the TSA Line Like a Pro

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Get Through TSA Checkpoints Like A Pro With This Tip

Most of us don’t mess with the inexperienced traveler or go through the regular TSA line because we have PreCheck. And that PreCheck membership was paid for because of our credit card perks. But there are some times when PreCheck is not open or you are traveling with people that don’t have it so you slum it.  You will end up in the regular TSA line at some point, it is almost inevitable.  I showed you a way to skip the main line on Spirit for a mere $5-$6 but let’s ignore all that for one moment.  You can get through TSA checkpoints like a pro with this tip. And if everyone did it the TSA process would be smooth and efficient.  That tip is to put your crap in your damn bag before getting to the scanner area! Please, I beg of you!!!

RELATED: The One Thing I Do EVERY Flight, Am I A Weirdo Or Do You Do It Too?

Work Smarter Not Harder

Work smarter not harder is my life motto so to speak.  I try to look at ways to skirt the system or make things easier on myself.  I think I found that scenario when it comes with the TSA process.

When you are waiting in line for the TSA agent to check your documents or when you are in line waiting to grab a bin is the time to get prepared.  If everyone used that time to remove their belts, phones, and wallets etc. and just put them in their bag, luggage or purse things would move so much faster.  The front pocket of my backpack is used for this.  By the time I get up to the scanner area all I have to do is remove my computer,  tablet and put my shoes on the conveyor belt.

Think of all of the people you see waiting in line digging in their pockets and throwing that stuff in one bin.  Then they have to put electronics in another bin.  And you know they forgot to take off their belt too! Which means they have to go back and put it in the bin and hold everyone up.

Imagine What it Could Look Like

If everyone put their stuff in their bag instead of the bins people would (almost) never need more than one bin.  Also when everyone goes to grab their stuff on the other side they can throw on their shoes and go.  Once they exit the cramped pick up area they can pull out their stuff from their bag.  How many times have you seen someone blocking everyone putting coins back in their pocket right next to the conveyor?

On my previous trip through TSA the lady in front of me was fiddling with her phone.  She set it on top of her bag to go through the scanner and then debated that choice. You think that would end badly? Then she panicked and went and grabbed a bin to put it in.  Her bag was sitting right there and she could have quickly slid it in the front pocket.  But everyone was held up waiting on her to go find a bin for a single cell phone.  She forgot to remove her belt until at the scanner as well.

Final Thoughts

Now I know this won’t work for everyone since some people won’t have a bag or purse to put their stuff in. I think that those people are few and far between these days with #teamcarryon being popular.  I wish this would become the mandate for everyone to do at TSA.  It would shave time off of the TSA process and it would reduce stress for infrequent travelers. Everyone is so grumpy in the TSA area, maybe smoothing out the process would improve everyone’s attitude!

If everyone did this one thing they could simply grab their bag, their tablet/computer, and their shoes and get out of the cramped TSA area quickly.  That would make life a lot better.  Work smarter, not harder people 😉.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. Well, putting everything in your bag does not work because you have to remove your stuff from your bag and need to put it extra in the bins. Like the little bag with the liquids and everything electronic. So not just a tablet or laptop. But also your phone(s), your toothbrush, your camera, your headphone, …
    Oh, and don’t think you may keep your tablet in its sleeve … it needs to be removed at some TSA lines (not always, depends on TSA agents). Or you think you may keep your photo in its photo bag? Maybe, maybe not. Ah, not to forget one’s shaver.
    I have put all my cables in amenity kit bags so they are somewhat organized … and now I even keep these bags in my checked bag to minimize work at security checkpoints.
    I try to be prepared and to be quick grabbing everything I need to remove from my bag, but it takes time and bins.

    • For domestic travel I haven’t pulled out liquids in 10 years and they never say anything. Your phone doesn’t need to be pulled out either etc. Most of what you list is fine staying in your bag in my experience.

      • Well, they maybe don’t say something to you after the fact. But before everyone is told that in an infinite loop 😉
        The rules seem to say, that (when not in PreCheck lane) you need to remove the liquids bag and all electronics.
        That’s why I remove that stuff from my bag. It happens from time to time that I forget to remove one of my electronic devices … and nothing happens. Of course, all this stuff can still be viewed when inside a bag. The only reason I see for removing stuff from a bag is to somehow declutter stuff.
        So they won’t say something when you forget to remove something. But to knowingly keep everything inside one’s bag even though knowing one should remove it?
        The need for removing all electronics is something first introduced by the EU, but it seems that the US has adapted that.
        A few years ago it was only ‘electronic devices larger than a phone’.
        Anyway, I totally agree with some items like a belt or something. It makes it easier when put into your bag.

  2. My solution to the belt problem has been to buy a belt with a plastic buckle. So far no one at TSA (I have PreChk) or at the international airports where I have gone through security recently (SIN, KUL, BKK, ICN, NRT) have made me take my belt off. Even in SIN when US Homeland Security had Delta put SSSS on my boarding pass 9 days ago, Changi security just had me remove my shoes. I hope the SSSS was just a random check as we are flying to MSP on Thursday.

  3. My husband always has a pocket full of stuff (coins etc) so he now carries a ziplock bag to put all that stuff in before we get to the bins. Time saver for him and every one else.

  4. Totally agree. I use tsa pre and clear and still see this in those lines. When I get to the airport.i get a paper boarding pass as a backup. I put this in my passport and put my wallet, cell phones and other pocket contents in my backpack. Once through doc check I slip my boarding pass and passport into my backpack and throw it all on the scanner belt. I fly through the process.

    I wont even get into the topic of people getting tsa pre randomly that aren’t tsa pre in reality which defeats the whole purpose and mixes amateurs into the precheck lines.

    • That is true – my parents always get TSA Pre for some reason even though they don’t have it. So you will run into people that don’t know the PRE rules and set up which does defeat the purpose. Glad I am not the only one who does this too 🙂


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