Know Before You Go. You can check TSA wait times at your departure airport before you leave the house. Keep in mind that TSA doesn’t do a great job updating this. Other apps, like Gate Guru may give you a general idea of how long security is at your airport.
Be Prepared. TSA is recommending travelers arrive 2 hours prior to flight time to allow enough time to clear security. If you’re traveling with young children, make sure you bring plenty of things to entertain them.
Verify. Double-check flight, rental car and hotel info before you leave. Chances are everything is running at 100% capacity during your trip. Try to solve any potential issues before you get started on your trip.
Check-In Online & Get Boarding Pass Early. Download the app from the airline you’re traveling with and get digital boarding passes before you head to the airport. To be safe, you might want to print out boarding passes as well.
Check your wallet! Look at what benefits you receive from various credit cards. Some offer priority boarding, access to elite security lines, access to airport lounges. Figure out what benefits you have before you travel at both your departure and arrival airport (for return flights).
Ask For Help If You’re In Danger Of Your Flight. If you’re stuck in line and don’t think you’re going to make your flight, flag down one of the employees you see working the security lines. Typically, there will be airport and airline workers there to help travelers get where they’re going.
Consider Checking A Bag. While I’m generally not a fan of checking a bag with the airlines, busy holidays may be a time to consider it. If you’re not a top-level elite member, you might find overhead bins full by the time you board. And, the more you carry through the security the longer it will take for you to get where you’re going. Again, check your wallet to see if you have a credit card that gives you free checked bags or reimburses you for airline fees.
Don’t wrap presents. TSA may need to unwrap them, and they’re not inclined to do a great job wrapping them back up.
PreCheck/Global Entry. If you don’t have PreCheck, it can’t help you this week. But, you can sign up for it and have it before your next family vacation. Be smart and pay the extra $15 to get Global Entry, get expedited entry back into the US and faster screening at virtually all airports in the US.
Don’t forget to count to 10. Everyone is stressed out during the holiday travel season. That includes your fellow passengers and flight crews. Even when things don’t go your way, take a deep breath. Work on a solution as opposed to being part of the problem. It’ll go a long way in the end.