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Recent news of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) layoffs and first-hand accounts of missed flights with trending hashtags such as #ihatethewait due to unprecedented security line wait-times has travelers across the country wondering how they can best prepare for this stressful situation at our some of our nation’s busiest airports. Here are some simple precautions and tips for making the best of this ongoing predicament and making sure you don’t miss your flight.

Also: 6places to conquer your fears

funny going through airport security

Book the earliest morning flights. While you will still likely encounter dozens of travelers waiting for the TSA lanes to open as early as 4 a.m., you’ll be more likely to have a shorter wait time than just a couple hours later when more flights are departing and more travelers are heading out. And if you do miss your flight, you’ll have more options for rebooking throughout the remainder of the day.

Pack light. Getting everything into a carry-on bag will not only save you from paying checked baggage fees, but also means you can immediately step into thesecurity line upon arrival at the airport. And again, if you do miss your flight, you’ll have everything with you when you arrive at your destination.

Sign up for TSA Pre-Check. If you’re considering signing up for this expedited security service, you’ll want to start the process weeks in advance as the volume of requests continues to increase as travelers look for ways to avoid the long wait times.  Orbitz.com even offers Orbitz Rewards Platinum members the chance to participate in TSA Pre-Check at no cost to them, so look for perks like this to offset the cost.

Arrive early, early, early. Don’t underestimate the backlog at TSA security checkpoints, especially at major hub airport such as Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, LAX and Miami. Allowyourself THREE HOURS, even for domestic flights, to get to through security and to your gate.

Be organized and have a plan. Make a mental checklist of TSA security procedures as you wait in line for screening. Remember the 3-1-1 rule, shoes and coats must come off, and laptops must be placed in their own tray. For families with small children, decide in advance who will be in charge of folding the stroller, carrying the infant/toddler, taking off/on shoes/jackets etc.

Have airline/travel provider contact information ready. In the event that you do miss your flight, take some of the hassle out of having to rebook on the next flight by having your airline or travel provider’s customer support number programmed into your phone. Dial and walk as you make your way to the airline customer service counter in the terminal, working all avenues of getting on to the next flight.

Get to the airport EARLY.  We said it before and we’ll say itagain, get to the airport 3 hours early.

Orbitz Rewards

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Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore has spent 14 years as a communications professional working with high-profile companies in travel, technology, and consumer products, currently serving as a senior editor for Orbitz.com. Learn more about her here.

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