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Gaming the Security Gates

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The days of searching out the shortest TSA line are almost over. The trend in airport organization is toward a single security checkpoint in each terminal. (At Newark, for now, you can still traverse the concourse looking for the shortest line.) As teeth-grinding as one monstrous line sounds, there is good reason for it. “A single checkpoint will give you more flexibility,” says Gensler Architects principal Ron Steinert, who is overseeing the design of JetBlue’s new terminal at JFK (opening in 2009). The theory is that a single entry point will allow TSA to concentrate personnel in one place, reducing wait times. The new JetBlue terminal will have twenty screening lanes arrayed side by side for maximum passenger throughput. Everyone will suffer equally and, ideally, a little less. Until then, use these strategies to get ahead.


1. GO LEFT
Statistically, right-handed people (and Americans specifically) have a tendency to turn right when they enter a room.


2. TIME YOUR FLIGHT
Avoid the early morning (when security waits reach their peak) and the evening (when banks of international flights clog the checkpoints). Try to get through security between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the fewest flights depart.


Illustrations by Jason Lee  

3. SIGN UP FOR CLEAR REGISTERED TRAVEL
For $100 a year, you can access a dedicated lane where you won’t even need to take off your shoes. Clear has lanes at Terminals 1, 4, and 7 at JFK, and Terminal B at Newark.


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