The one airport hack that will get you home faster

When my plane lands at a US airport, I want to spend as little time inside the terminal as possible. It takes about 10 minutes just to get off the plane, and then you have to avoid passengers waiting for their strollers outside the plane’s door and those who inexplicably stop walking the moment they exit the jetway.

Once you’ve dodged those obstacles, let me give you this piece of advice: If you didn’t check a bag, don’t follow the signs to baggage claim.

In many airports, baggage claim is accessed through a labyrinth of walkways, stairs, and escalators—often on a separate level from the terminal gate concourse But if you have no bags to collect, the fastest way out of the airport is usually the way you came in: through the security checkpoint.

Many airports in the US have a terminal exit adjacent to security. You can use it to leave, and it will make all the difference. Here’s what the exit looks like at terminal 8 in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport:

Of course, this strategy might lead you farther from airport shuttles and taxis, but if you’re getting picked up, just ask to meet at departures. Parking structures are typically just as easy to get to from arrivals and departures. And at JFK, this method actually puts you closer to the AirTrain in many terminals.

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