10 Things To Do When TSA Lines Are Long:

10 Things To Do When TSA Lines Are Long:

Try These Suggestions Next Time You’re Held Hostage By Our Friendly Federal Agency, the TSA

TSA, making air travel fun in a way only the federal government could.
TSA, making air travel fun in a way only the federal government could.

Thank the Lord we have smart phones. Our dreadfully slow government run agencies like TSA also thank the Lord that we the masses, have smart phones. It makes us less vocal victims of the stereotypically sloth-like pace we’ve come to expect from government workers. I’ll admit that my phone has made “down-time” such as waiting for a meeting or an appointment, not terribly dreadful. Although I have found that it’s not necessarily the case for waiting in a TSA line at the airport. Perhaps because of the anxiety I already have about flying, or maybe it is just hard to get lost in social media or Netflix while being shuffled along like cattle under the eye of big brother. So I have created a list of 10 things you can do to make your hours long wait go by a bit quicker.

10. Stare at your boarding pass

Check your boarding pass, repeatedly. You just might find a surprise!
Check your boarding pass, repeatedly. You just might find a surprise!

Read it over and over. Sometimes you might discover a surprise that will get you to the front of the line, like your flight leaving at 8:05 rather than 8:50. First your stomach will drop, then your face will feel flushed. Next you will scramble to find a TSA agent to help you, and they will say “we can’t do anything, you’ll have to ask everyone if you can cut in front of them”. Not wanting to miss your flight will be enough motivation for you to beg your fellow travelers victims for mercy, and you’ll whisk yourself to front in no time.

9. Eat all your snacks

It’s not wise to drink on an empty stomach, and you know you’ll be rushing to a terminal bar once you get your belt and shoes back on. So you might as well eat your granola bars and trail-mixes while in line, this way you can have something to soak up the airport bar craft-beer and side shot of tequila.

Get comfortable, but not too comfortable, emotion is a red flag for TSA
Get comfortable, but not too comfortable, emotion is a red flag for TSA

8. Pull your ID out of your wallet and move it to an accessible pocket.

We all know the drill, have your boarding pass and ID ready to show the guy with the highlighter marker. We all get annoyed when we are next in line and the person ahead of us is fumbling around to retrieve an ID they had put in a tightly packed carryon. The goal here is to simply be quicker than the government worker. If a government worker is waiting on you, you are moving too slow.

7. Check out other people’s carryon bags

Some people carryon crazy looking bags and other stuff. Spend a few minutes looking at everyone else’s bags. Think to your self, what type of bag would a Muslim terrorist have? How many pill bottles will TSA pull out of the crazy lady’s purse? How much stuff could that three year old really fit in that M&M shaped backpack? This idea may seem like day dreaming mixed with stereotyping, and I suppose it is, but it passes time… and someone in that place might as well be profiling. We know the TSA isn’t doing it.

6. Put on headphones and sing out loud with every song

People in TSA lines are terribly bored, they want a show, they would love to hear your wonderful singing voice. So put on your headphones and let them hear you sing every other syllable of a Beyonce song. It may seem like they are giving you grimaces of annoyance, but really it is a look of jealousy. They are jealous of your fabulous voice, so obviously an encore is in order… next give’em your best Adele.


5. Make friends

Starting a conversation with total strangers is not easy for many of us. Here’s the trick, look for a conversation starter. If a fellow TSA line victim is wearing a sports t-shirt, be it college or pro, tell the person that all the ‘insert team name‘-fans you have met were the “nicest fans ever”, and ask them how their team is looking for the coming season. You could also talk about the weather, the news, or even the upcoming trip. Time will fly by. This is also a good idea if you are traveling with someone who doesn’t have anything new to say. So get to know your fellow TSA victims.

4. Play “Hot or Not

Most of us do this already. We just don’t want to call it a game. This ties in with number 7, as it’s a mix of daydreaming and stereotyping, but with a more sexist tilt. It used to be called “people watching”. We know those government employed TSA agents are playing the game while we walk through their whirling x-ray body scanners. So might as well pass time by doing the same, in less visually intrusive manner. Play with a new friend, get to know their tastes.

Might as well play "Hot or Not", we know TSA does.
Might as well play “Hot or Not”, we know TSA does.

3. Take your meds

Use this time to pop some pills. Go ahead and turn yourself into shuffling emotionless zombie. After all, emotion is a red flag for TSA. Why else would they force you to wait in line two hours? You can’t bring that water bottle through anyway, so use a few chugs to wash down that Xanax and Ambien combo. The most anxiety you’ll encounter all day will likely be during the suspicious prodding that awaits you at the end of the line.

2. Read a book and listen to music

With this suggestion you can substitute a smart phone/tablet for a book (for the millennials who don’t own physical books). The trick to the effectiveness of this idea is the headphones and music. You want total immersion. Don’t worry about holding up the line, or the fact that the guy behind you has to tap you on the shoulder every two minutes. Just look annoyed, use your foot to push your carryon, and shuffle up a few steps. You may be similar to the jerk who sits at a green light looking at his phone, but the standards here are lower, you only need to be faster than the government workers.

1. Grin and bare it

Do we want TSA style inefficiency anywhere else in our lives?
Do we want TSA style inefficiency anywhere else in our lives?

Get used to it. In the past we associated the long lines caused by government agency processes with places like the DMV. Luckily with the DMV we only had to endure their confinement once every five years. Encounters with the TSA are far more common for most of us. Every time a holiday approaches we are reminded of the long lines and told to arrive 2-3-4 hours prior to departure. For many of us, the necessity of air travel means frequent subjugation to hours long waits caused by the inefficiency of government run TSA. Until airport security is privatized and motivated toward efficiency by the marketplace, nothing will change. I have given you nine other ideas for passing time, so number 1 should only be used as a last resort. You are at the mercy of the TSA and our federal government, so grin and bare it.


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