How To Cut the Line at the Airport -- The Right Way

If there’s one thing most air travelers hate about traveling is the long lines and waits at the airports. Although these are almost inevitable, it doesn’t mean we are held hostage to it. We can do something to make the line go a bit quicker for us and most of them can be accomplished even before you lock your front door.

cut the airport line

Put your important documents such as passports and tickets as well as a pen in a pouch.
Do not just throw them separately in your purse or bag and rummage through it when they are needed at the airport. With a pouch, all you have to do is pull it out of your bag and everything is there. Include also some money and a credit card for the terminal fee and any other unexpected charges.

Fill up the immigration form at home and fill it up completely.
I always have copies of the immigration form that I fill up leisurely at home. I also have extra immigration forms of countries that I regularly visit so I don’t have to do it on the plane.

Do the web check-in.
If the airline offers a web check-in feature, then do so especially if you don’t have a baggage to check in so you can go straight to immigration. Even if you have to check in your baggage, you have two line options to choose from---the regular or the bag-drop counter. Just look which line seems to be quicker, then queue up there.

cut the airport line

And if you’re abroad where you don’t have access to the web or a printer, upon arrival at the airport, check if your airline offers self-service check-in.

Check your baggage weight.
I’ve seen so many times people who have to repack their baggage including their hand-carry at the check-in counter because they have exceeded their weight limit and are not willing to pay extra. This is what I don’t understand about people. If they could rearrange their items to meet the weight limit at the airport, why didn’t it occur to them to do it at home in the first place?

Remember to remove all prohibited items from your hand-carry.
I learned this the hard way as I have lost several Swiss knives and scissors to airport securities. Of course, I knew they were prohibited but I keep forgetting to either remove them from my purse or to transfer them to my check-in baggage. If you must bring liquids like water, bring them in small bottles or put them in your check-in baggage otherwise you will be asked to dispose of them or consume them before proceeding to immigration. A friend of mine once tried to down an entire can of room-temperate Coke but gave up his pride and threw the can away.

cut the airport line
If possible, don’t bother with belts, jackets, caps or shades.

These things add to our queuing time when asked to remove them for security purposes. If you must wear them, don them after clearance at the departure lounge.

-The Paranoid Traveler


  1. In the Philippines, we really could speed departure procedures up if three things were done:
    a) eliminate the security scan at the entrance of our airports, as is done elsewhere. Baggage should be screened after a passenger checks in.
    b) eliminate the collection of airport service fees as a separate matter for travelers. Collect such fees at either the airline counter or when tickets are issued. Even automatic kiosks would speed this procedure up. And revenues would increase because no staff would be needed to man windows 24 hours a day.
    c) allow immigration to more completely automate. Currently, immigration computers are out of date and slow. This creates a massive delay - and even makes people late for their flights. Further, immigration can be automated for Philippine passport holders and holders of Immigration ACR-I cards. The passports have intelligent chips as do the ACR-I cards. Why this is not done when Immigration collects sufficient revenue by milking foreign residents is a darn good question!

    1. With Filipino ingenuity, there is no reason why we cannot do this!
      My honest guess is that the whole process is messy because of corruption and incompetence.

    2. How to save time in the airport: Become a government official or a Senator or Congressman. Then watch how fast people help you move through!!!


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