The return to travel is in full force. Lately, we've been captivated by images on the news of long security lines, some of which have snaked their way outside the terminal. Further adding to the security challenges, many travelers let their TSA PreCheck or CLEAR memberships expire over the last few years due to decreased demand for travel. As you plan your next trip, at which airports do you need to add some extra time to clear the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint?
A recent survey from Bounce, a luggage storage company in cities worldwide, analyzed data from the TSA and US Customs & Border Protection between March 8, 2021, and March 7, 2022, to determine which airports have the longest wait times. While these numbers don't include time to pick up or drop off your luggage or to check in with your airline, they shed light on which airports you need to add some extra arrival time if you want to make your flight.
AIRPORTS WITH THE OVERALL LONGEST WAIT TIMES
Major airline hubs rose to the top of the list with the longest wait times when factoring in security and passport control wait times. Miami International Airport (MIA), a hub for American Airlines and a focus city for Frontier and Spirit airlines, had the longest average wait times at 46 minutes, 57 seconds. Nearby Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), a focus city for JetBlue and Spirit airlines, had the second-longest average wait time at 46 minutes, 41 seconds.
Many of these airports are major facilities for international arrivals and departures, contributing to the lengthy passport processing times due to high international passenger volume alone.
AIRPORTS WITH THE OVERALL BEST WAIT TIMES
Smaller hubs dominated the airports with the shortest wait times for security and passport control. Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU), a focus city for Delta Air Lines, had the overall shortest average wait time at 16 minutes, 9 seconds. Southwest hub Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) had the second shortest average wait time at 19 minutes, 14 seconds; followed by American Airlines hub Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) with an average wait time of 19 minutes, 15 seconds.
AIRPORTS WITH THE LONGEST SECURITY WAIT TIMES
If you're planning a beach getaway, keep in mind that Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) had the longest average security wait time at 36 minutes, 18 seconds – eclipsing second place airport by more than 7 minutes. St. Louis Lambert International Airport had the second-longest average security wait time of 28 minutes, 48 seconds, followed by San Francisco International Airport at 27 minutes, 48 seconds. Tied for fourth place, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) had an average security wait time of 25 minutes.
AIRPORTS WITH THE SHORTEST SECURITY WAIT TIMES
The shortest average security wait time goes to the east coast United Airlines hub Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), with an average wait time of 5 minutes, 18 seconds. California's Ontario International Airport had the second shortest average security wait time with an average wait time of 6 minutes, 18 seconds. Four airports tied for third place, with an average wait time of 8 minutes, 18 seconds, including Sacramento International Airport (SMF), Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), San Antonio International Airport (SAT), and Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
HOW CAN YOU AVOID LONG WAIT TIMES?
If you’re looking to expedite the security process, consider enrolling in government services like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. These services feature dedicated lines that tend to move at a faster pace but involve a fee and a screening process in order to enroll. Services like CLEAR, a private company, use a fee-based biometric screening process to expedite the document checking process for departing US flights.