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Travellers enter a security checkpoint at Baltimore Washington International Airport near Baltimore, Md. on March 13, 2019.


Mark your laptop

Many airports are now using “parallel divest stations” at security checkpoints. These allow multiple passengers to unload items simultaneously, which is great. But the drawback is that bins move along the belt as they’re ready, which means your items likely won’t be grouped together. It took only experience of having three bins containing identical MacBooks to come through one after the other to make me realize I needed to differentiate my device. It now has a sticker on the underside.

Get the right bag

Speaking of laptops, if you’re travelling with one, you will have to take it out for screening, so make sure it’s as accessible as possible. Look for briefcases and backpacks that have a dedicated exterior laptop pocket, so you’re not stuck trying to jam it back in around the rest of your stuff.

Mind your snacks

Security agents are increasingly asking for all snack to be removed and put in a bin. It’s still not common, but it never hurts to be prepared. Keep snacks together in a Ziploc or other smaller bag that can be easily reached. You don’t want to be unpacking your bag at this point.

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Pick the right line

Assuming you have a choice, aim to get behind passengers who likely know what they’re doing. People in suits are a good pick. Ditto solo travellers, people with minimal luggage and anyone who has already removed his or her jacket (this person is prepped). Try to avoid families with young children, couples or groups engaged in chitchat and anyone with random bags hanging off every arm.

Pony up

Many global airports now offer a “fast track option” for a fee. This is particularly common at British centres; at Heathrow, for example, the privilege will set you back £12.50 (around $22). Other ways to get premium service: Pay for a credit card that offers it as a perk, or book a higher-price seat on certain airlines.

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