Business travelers are insanely busy. Less time in airports means more time for work, so knowing the tricks to get through security quickly is as important as any other on-the-job skill.
Travelers are always facing new challenges, it seems. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in July 2008 ended its two-year registered traveler program, which gave passengers access to faster security lines at 19 airports. The program became a commercial venture after that, but the largest provider shut down in June. CLEAR, operated by Verified Identity Pass, had about 165,000 customers but closed its doors in less than a year.
What’s a business traveler to do? Some are turning to new “premier travel” plans offered by airlines. United offers packages that can be bought for flights between certain cities. The "premier travel" package includes two checked bags with no fees, use of the “premier” line to move quickly through security, a seat with extra leg room and a 25 percent redeemable Mileage Plus bonus credit. Another package, called “premier travel plus” offers additional options. Expect to add $71 to the ticket, each way, between O’Hare and LaGuardia, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Some corporations are buy or lease their own aircraft as a way to avoid airport security hassles and other delays while keeping their highly compensated executives as productive as possible. Although commercial air travel has dropped during the recession, the business aviation industry has expanded in the past five years, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Don’t work for one of these companies? If you’re on your own when it comes to navigating through airports quickly and efficiently, consider these tips.
Know the drill—Make sure you have the rules down pat, advises Diane Stafford of the Kansas City Star. Learn how to get your laptop through screening as quickly as possible. Carry one regulation-sized piece of carry-on luggage. Print out your boarding pass the night before, and keep your photo ID at the ready. Sign up for e-mail alerts at tsa.gov, so you’ll know immediately when the rules change.
Travel light—Yes, it’s obvious, but it’s the one key move you can make that can seriously lessen your hassles. Also, watch what you wear. Jewelry, piercings, belts with metal buckles, and complicated shoes can slow you down at security.
Expect delays—Independent Traveler magazine suggests programming the phone numbers of your airline, car rental company, shuttle service, and hotel into your cell phone, so you can adjust quickly if you have a flight delay.
Get the best seat—A seat at the front of the plane means you can get more done before boarding and you’ll get off first. You can select your seat online at booking time.
Make a packing list—Save it on your computer and use it each time you travel.
Fly direct—Avoid layovers if you can, as connections mean lost time. Also, fly early in the day as there are fewer delays and cancellations.
For more information on airport security, go to the Independent Traveler’s Q and A:
Read up on the TSA's latest packing rules.