Travel

The Single Biggest Mistake You’re Making At The Airport

Seriously, why are you still doing this?
12/15/2015 07:01am ET | Updated January 6, 2016

By and large, airplane travel is one of the most stressful, unpleasant routines we put ourselves through.

While there isn't much you can do about crammed leg room or delayed flights, there is one major improvement you can make. It starts by getting yourself out of ridiculously long security lines.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fellow travelers, please, please do yourself a favor and sign up for TSA PreCheck.

Enrolling in the known-traveler program is SO much easier than you think. Participants get to bypass the soul-sucking long security lines for a shorter, simpler security process. PreCheck travelers don't have to take laptops or fluids out of their bags and don't have to take off their shoes, belts or light jackets.

More than 1.5 million (brilliant) people have signed up for PreCheck, which is just a drop in the bucket of total airline passengers (662.3 million in 2014) that traveled on domestic flights.

If you think PreCheck is only for frequent fliers, that's simply not true. Even if you only fly a few times each year, imagine how much less stressful the process would be if you didn't show up at the airport faced with a line of disgruntled people snaking around the terminal?

Parents traveling with children don't have to worry about juggling crying babies, meandering toddlers and laptop cases. Habitual procrastinators don't have to panic when they arrive at the airport ten minutes before boarding. And germophobes can relax as their shoes stay securely on their feet.

Another added bonus? You no longer have to stand in that intrusively intimidating body scanner. PreCheck passengers go through good ol' fashioned metal detectors.

Scott Olson via Getty Images

The process to enroll is easy, though there are some drawbacks to the program. In addition to the non-refundable $85 fee, PreCheck is not offered in all domestic airports.

The good news is that the $85 fee is valid for five years, and the program is expanding to new airports. To enroll, complete an application online and schedule a time for an interview. The "interview" is very straightforward (present identification, scan your fingerprints), and doesn't take long at all. The non-refundable $85 fee is valid for five years and you can even pay with credit card.

Next thing you know, you have a Known Traveler Number. By simply adding that number to your airline reservations, you'll get an all-powerful boarding pass with the special secret code on it.

Seriously, guys, why haven't you done this yet?

Boston Globe via Getty Images

Also on HuffPost:

The Best Places To Travel To Each Month