10 Tips for Speeding Through Airport Security

Heed the TSA’s advice for navigating checkpoints during a busy summer travel season.

Airport Security Line
Photo Credit: pressmaster for Adobe Stock

On Friday, May 26, the Transportation Security Administration expects to screen about 2.6 million airline passengers who are getting away for Memorial Day weekend, and volume is expected to remain high all summer long. That can mean bottlenecks at TSA checkpoints. Passengers can do their part to speed their way to the gate, and it never hurts to remind travelers about the basics. Following are some recommendations from the agency, based on years of observing behavior that delays the process.

1. Use TSA PreCheck. If you’re already a PreCheck member, make sure your Known Traveler Number is in your airline profile and indicated on your boarding pass. If you aren’t yet enrolled in TSA PreCheck, consider doing so. A five-year membership costs $78. Members may renew membership online up to six months prior to expiration for another five-year term for $70.

2. Give yourself extra time. Summer travel will be busy, and lines for check-in, bag drop, security, etc. might be long.

3. Have a valid ID in hand. Adult passengers 18 and older must show government-issued identification at the airport checkpoint. Beginning May 7, 2025, if you plan to use your state-issued ID or license to fly within the U.S., it must be REAL ID compliant.

4. Empty your carry-on bag before packing. You’re less likely to have a forgotten water bottle or other prohibited item tucked in a pocket from a previous trip.

5. Don't pack guns. Firearms are not permitted; it might sound obvious, but given that more than 6,500 were confiscated by the TSA last year, it’s worth repeating.

6. Be aware of new checkpoint technology. Some airports have installed new scanning machines that have a narrower opening than the traditional units. Don’t shove your bag! Ask a TSA officer for assistance if your item is too big to pass through easily.

7. Don’t bring too much. Passengers are allowed a maximum of one carry-on bag and one personal item onboard.

8. Put everything in the bins. That includes shoes, wallets, cell phones, change and trinkets in your pockets, and all light outerwear (including sweaters, suit jackets and blazers). PreCheck members can keep their shoes and sweaters on.

9. Respect TSA and other airport and airline employees. And, yes, pilots and other essential personnel are allowed to cut the line. Be patient and friendly; it’s better for everyone.

10. Contact the TSA with questions, compliments, complaints or assistance. AskTSA is available for live assistance from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. ET via Twitter or Facebook by messaging @AskTSA or by sending a text to “272872” (“AskTSA”). For customer service issues, travelers may reach the TSA Contact Center at (866) 289-9673. Individuals with disabilities, medical needs or other special circumstances may request passenger assistance at least 72 hours in advance by contacting the TSA Cares passenger support line at (855) 787-2227.