The idea that we should arrive at the airport two hours prior to our departure time is due to the potential bottleneck created by the pre-terminal security checkpoint. The wait can be nothing or it can be a nightmare, but if everyone arrived at this necessary portal prepared, who knows how much time could be saved? While you cannot control the personal responsibility of others, and certainly cannot do anything about clogged checkpoints during busy spells, there are a number of things that you can do to ensure you get yourself through airport security as quickly as possible:
Pack accordingly: The first and obvious step is to pack your carry-on items with airport security in mind. That means keeping your laptop or tablet in a place where it can be easily taken out, as well as remembering to limit liquids and gels to 3.4 ounce bottles (and placing them inside zip-lock bags).
Having your boarding pass and identification readily available: You will be asked to show TSA personnel your boarding pass as well as a valid form of identification, so have these items at the ready. Acceptable forms of I.D. include state drivers license and passport.
Wear slip-on shoes: Passengers are asked to remove their shoes and place them in a bin to be ran through the X-ray along with carry-on luggage. Avoid snugly fit shoes with shoestrings, and opt instead for flip-flops, sandals, or slip-ons (though for the sake of sanitation, wear socks).
Skip the belt: If you can, store any belt you wish to wear for the duration of your flight somewhere in your carry-on where you can retrieve it after being cleared through security. The metal is sure to set the detector off, and removing it is time-consuming.
Store change, phone, keys, jewelry, et cetera, in your carry-on: Instead of having to dump all of these items into an unhygienic and slippery bin, put them in your luggage while in line and get them when you’ve cleared the checkpoint.
Avoid loose-fit clothing: You will be asked to remove any sweaters or jackets and place them in a bin to be X-rayed. Comfortable clothing is a must for air travel, but keep in mind that TSA personnel are trained to take a second look at anyone wearing baggy attire, as it’s easier to conceal potentially dangerous items underneath.
Nobody can predict the time it will take to get through airport security. But everybody ought to take the necessary personal steps to ensure they can get through the checkpoint as quickly as possible. If everyone did, then we could probably start showing up to the airport a little later than we do.