First, get to the airport and clear security early. I fly a lot and I hate being stressed with long lines and a flight leaving in 30 minutes. Big airports just raise the stakes, at Chicago's O'Hare it can take 15 minutes to get from security to your gate and how long it takes to get through security is anybody's guess. So get there early and reduce the stress factor. The TSA recommends 2 hours.
Second, anything you think might be a problem taking through security, just put in a bag you'll be checking. There's a different standard for checked bags. Go to tsa.gov for any questions you have on particular items but when in doubt just pack it in a bag you plan to check. Hazardous or dangerous materials are a no in either case.
Third, get organized for security. Wear shoes you can slip on and off easily, take any outerwear off, as well as belts and be ready to put them in a bin. Have your gov't ID and your boarding pass ready when you get to the front of the line. Take coins, cell phones and any metal objects out of your pockets and into a carry on to avoid that last minute crush or leaving it in one of those plastic bowls they provide. Remember, someone just left a $10,000 watch in security at Newark Airport!
Fourth, follow the 3:1:1 rule. Here it is:
3-1-1 for carry-ons. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.
Be prepared. Each time a TSA officer stops to physically screen a carry-on bag, it slows down the line. Practicing the 3-1-1 rule will facilitate the checkpoint experience.
Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula/food and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces, and they don’t have to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. TSA officers may need to open them for additional screening.
Fifth, take infants and children out of baby carriers and strollers and take them through the metal detector. Strollers and baby carriers go through the X-ray machine with your carry-on bags. Collapse the stroller before you reach the metal detector. I know you're rolling your eyes at this one but if I had a dollar for every time I've heard a TSA agent tell a parent to take their child out of the stroller I could spend my summer in Hawaii.
Bonus: Ask an agent if there's more than 1 security line. Some lines might be routinely quicker than others. Check your boarding pass, if you see a TSA Precheck notation on it you can go through the expedited security line. The same rules apply but the line is much quicker.Note: You'll only see this on select boarding passes printed at the airport, it won't appear on one on your phone or printed somewhere else. If you're 75 or older you don't have to take your light jacket or shoes off. Be considerate of others, they want to get to their destination just as much as you do.