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How can you get through the airport faster?

Tips for making your trip to the airport as fast as possible
Tips for making your trip to the airport as fast as possible 02:57

MINNEAPOLIS — If you were traveling this holiday weekend, you might have helped break a record. A total of 3,013,413 passengers went through TSA checkpoints on Sunday — that's the most ever in a single day.

The crowds might have made things slow going, so we wanted to know: How can we get through the airport faster? Good Question.

Last Friday, around 11:30 a.m., the wait times at the TSA checkpoints at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport's Terminal One were at a comfortable five minutes. Travelers would take that any day, but that time is far from the reality that often greets already anxious people trying to make their flight.

"I have TSA PreCheck, which helps with the security lines," said Jessica Vankirk, of Maple Grove, when asked how she tries to minimize her time at the airport.

It's the express route through security travelers swear by. 

"I travel almost weekly so, it speeds up my process," said Josiah Ness, of Idaho.

TSA spokesperson Jessica Mayle said the agency's standard for wait times is 30 minutes or less for regular passengers and 10 minutes or less for TSA PreCheck. 

"Most times you don't wait anywhere close to 30 or 10 minutes for either of those, but I think it gives people that peace of mind to know that generally, you're going to have a shorter wait (with TSA PreCheck)," she said.

In addition to shorter wait times, travelers don't need to remove their shoes, electronics, carry-on liquids or clothing. It costs $78, but it lasts five years.

"Your kids also can ride on your PreCheck benefits. So, 17 and under, if you're all booked on the same reservation, they would also have PreCheck on their boarding pass," said Mayle.

CLEAR is another paid service but it allows you to skip the security line and go straight to the bag inspection after a brief stop at a kiosk. It is more costly, however, at $179 per year.

What are some common mistakes people make when they're in the TSA line that slow them down? Oversize liquids top the list, said Mayle.

"Big bottles of water, big bottles of shampoo, sunblock this time of year," Mayle said.

Liquids must be under 3.5 ounces in your carry-on. Pack them in a clear bag so they're easily seen when going through security. And remember to pour out that water bottle before getting in line.

Even before arriving at the airport, travelers can find out how long the security lines might be through different digital apps on their phones. One of them is called MyTSA. It'll give users an estimated wait time for the current hour and projected wait times for the rest of the day based on historical data. You can even find out if one of the checkpoints happens to be closed at the airport.

"I use Flightrader24, I use an app called Flighty, and I generally find those apps know before my airline even does if my flights on time or delayed or not," said Clint Henderson, managing editor for The Points Guy.

Are there certain days that are less busy than others? Definitely, said Henderson. 

"You want travel on Saturdays. That's probably the best day to travel. You'll find the airports most empty on those days and prices can also be cheaper on Saturdays," Henderson said.

Mid-week tends to be slower as well, specifically Tuesday through Thursday. The other days, Sunday, Monday and Friday are the busiest.

And like freeway traffic, rush hour at the airport tends to be 5 to 7 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. with a lull often between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Several airports now allow people to reserve a spot in TSA ahead of time on their website. For MSP Airport, it's available only at Terminal Two.

If a traveler has medical conditions or disabilities, there's a program called TSA Cares to assist them. A staff member will help guide the traveler through the security screening process. Other groups who can get support from TSA Cares include seniors, the military, parents traveling with children and more.

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