These Free Tools May Help You Speed Through the Airport

Author: David McMillin       

Life is a journey, not a destination. It sounds like a lovely sentiment, but whoever came up with that adage was obviously not a road warrior experiencing the all-too-frequent frustration of waiting, waiting, and waiting some more along their journeys. Whether you’re gearing up for your next site visit or you’re planning a personal getaway this summer, the trip from here to there will most likely include some long lines at the airport. If you really want to leave those lines in the dust, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (priced at $100 and $85, respectively) are the most promising routes. These programs are well worth the investment if you’re always on the move, and with heightened security procedures around electronics, the ability to leave your laptop and tablet in your carry-on bag eliminates juggling loads of devices, bags, and bins. Plus, you get to keep your shoes on.

1) MiFlight

As crowdsourced apps like Waze help drivers predict what’s around the next curve, MiFlight uses crowdsourced information from passengers standing in line to help the rest of the travel community forecast their futures. In some cases, the app will empower travelers with some insider information that walking to another end of the terminal for an alternative line will be faster. Once you’ve made it through security, it’s your turn to help the rest of us in line. Make sure you share your own time to improve the app’s performance.

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2) MyTSA

Yes, the Transportation Security Administration actually wants to help you, and it has developed a mobile app with some handy tools to make your airport experience more efficient. MyTSA provides historical data on how busy checkpoints are at any time of the day. For PreCheck customers, the app will point you in the right direction with a list of open checkpoints. The app also has a crowdsourced component similar to MiFlight. For now, though, it appears that very few travelers are using it to report their wait times.

SEE ALSO: 3 Mobile Apps to Improve Your Air-Travel Experience

3) Mobile Passport Control

Airport lines aren’t confined to your departure. If you’re traveling internationally, your welcome home can include waiting in a mile-long line to clear customs. To expedite the process, check out Mobile Passport Control, the app from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The app lets travelers create a profile and add family members, submit customs declaration forms via their smartphones, and head straight for the designated Mobile Passport line. You can find Mobile Passport at most major U.S. airports, but there are a few notable exceptions: Detroit, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Charlotte — all of which are among the 20 busiest airports in the U.S. — do not yet offer the service.

While these tools won’t reduce your wait time to zero, there is good news from the TSA: The organization is testing a new technology that will accelerate the screening process. Learn more about the futuristic fingerprint-scanning system here.

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