Ask most travelers when they get to the airport to make their flights and the answer you’ll probably hear most often is about an hour before departure. However, some airlines – and even security officials – say that may not be good enough. Not this summer, anyway.
TSA: Flyers ‘Encouraged’ to Arrive Two Hours Early
In an undated post on the TSA’s website, the security agency recommends “domestic passengers arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to their flight.”
Meanwhile, Dallas-based TSA public affairs officer Luis Casanova of the South Central Region recently sent out an email to local media outlets saying summer travelers heading to DFW are “strongly encouraged” to arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time. Casanova told FareCompare that some vacation flyers may be infrequent travelers who are not familiar with TSA security requirements and need extra time.
Airlines Also Say Get to the Airport Early
Some specific airline advice on airport arrivals:
United: No specific advice but it notes that processing time at the airports like Albany, Albuquerque, Atlanta and many more can take as long as two hours during peak traffic
American: Domestic passengers checking bags should arrive 90 minutes before departure and two hours before departure to Hawaii or the U.S. Virgin Islands
Delta: Domestic travelers should arrive 75 minutes before flights and three hours before international flights
Airport, Security Delays can Result in Missed Flights
Another delay factor: infrequent flyers may not be prepared for the big summer crowds that are anticipated this year – it’s been estimated that about 200 million people will take to the skies this summer – and the potential for longer-than-usual wait times at security checkpoints can translate into missed flights.
Busiest times to fly with longest security lines: according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation, it’s between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. though this can vary by airport. The TSA now has a wait time estimator for U.S. airports on its website and as part of its mobile app.