Passing through an airport is nobody’s idea of a good time, but doing it around the holidays is a special hell of its own. With lines everywhere, crabby TSA agents, and frequent delays, traveling around this time of year can be incredibly frustrating.
If you’re already dreading the inevitable holdup at security, we have some good news: There are ways to breeze through pre-flight procedures with out losing your mind. All you need is a bit of prep — and be willing to shell out a few bucks for convenience.
Get TSA Pre-Check
For a non-refundable fee of $85, you can register yourself with TSA Pre-Check, a status that grants you access to an expedited line at security check, without having to remove your laptop, coats, and shoes. This service is only available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents deemed a “low-risk” traveler. Read our in-depth explainer to find out how the application process works.
Buy Priority Privileges
Throwing in a few extra bucks for priority access can really pay off. Individual airlines will offer the option to purchase priority access when you check in online or at the check-in counter, and these VIP privileges can go as low as $10 a pop. These niceties include a separate check-in lane and an early boarding.
Download These Apps
Having a few travel apps in your arsenal can be extra handy around the holidays: Consider downloading My TSA, TSA’s app, to keep updated on flight status and security wait time. TripIt and Gate Guru are two additional apps that can be useful.
Book An Early Flight
It pays off to set an early alarm: According to travel experts at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, flight delays take place most frequently between 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you book a morning flight out, the aircraft will most likely have spent the night at the airport, reducing the possibility of delays caused by late arrivals.
Having checked bags will only prolong your time at the check-in counter, not to mention waiting for them at the baggage reclaim after touching down. These lines can get a lot crazier around the holidays — imagine more travelers and less staff around the holidays — so stick with a carry-on if you can manage. Ideally, your baggage should be able to fit into the space below the seat, since overhead compartments are bound to get super packed around the holidays.
By VENUS WONG