I don’t think there is anyone who would disagree that increased airport security is a good thing. With the increasingly volatile and dangerous global climate; and indeed since the turn-of-the-century, it is more important than ever for airports to keep travellers safe and secure by whatever means necessary.
This being said, increased security checks and passport controls can cause severe delays to business travellers, especially for people travelling on a tight schedule. While security controls cannot usually be bypassed, the following tips will help speed your way through the airport and on your way in the quickest time possible.
1) Check-in online
Many airlines now let you print off your ticket at the office and check-in online up to 24 hours before your flight. Most airlines also have an app you can download which will enable you to check-in prior to arrival at the airport. Although these won’t save you any time getting through security itself, it will cut down on the amount of time you have to spend standing in queues at the airport.
2) Know which items are allowed and which ones are not
If you want to get through security quickly, make sure you don’t inadvertently take any prohibited items through check-in. Visit the website of the airport(s) you will be using. Most will have a list of prohibited items and advice about the best way to get through security clearance. Read up in advance and it will save you a lot of time.
3) Organise your carry-on possessions
One of the biggest causes of delays in going through security is people not being organised enough in advance. Think about what security guards are going to be looking out for and organise the contents of your pockets and hand luggage so they can easily be checked. Don’t carry anything onto the flight that you don’t need and ‘borderline items’, such as nail scissors and gun -shaped novelty keyrings are best avoided.
Anticipate being asked to empty out your pockets, so check in advance that they are not full of crumpled tissues, loose change and old receipts. For the items you do need, it is worth organising them into discrete bundles and putting them in zip close freezer bags. If you’re wearing a coat, then this will probably need to be scanned separately. Save a few valuable seconds by removing it before you reach the scan.
Make security’s job easy for them and they will give you a smoother time as well. Have everything ready for them to scan: remove large items of jewellery before going through the scanner, make sure your electronic devices are immediately available to be x-rayed separately.
4) Be Confident
Passport officials in some nations are enough to make even the most seasoned business traveller quiver. The USA in particular is notorious for giving everyone without a US passport a grilling whenever they come through the gate. Business travellers familiar with going to India, China or Russia will also be able to relate to this.
Despite preconceptions, the vast majority of passport officials are not out to trick you. They have a job to do in keeping their country safe and are trained to closely read body language and to treat all answers with scepticism. Make their job – and yours – easier by being confident, relaxed and by having your story prepared in advance. You may be surprised how readily your tongue fails you when put on the spot, and this immediately look suspicious. Cooperate, answer every question you’re asked and never lose your cool even if provoked.
The key to saving time going through security at an airport is to expect a thorough process and be prepared for it. Organise yourself, have nothing to hide and cooperate with the process, and it is unlikely you will have any problems. Delays going to airports can’t always be avoided, but business travellers can all play their part in helping to make the process smoother for everyone involved.