Sequestration Update: So How Busy are Airport Security Lines?

How busy are lines at airport security checkpoints? It depends where you are, and who you listen to. [Be sure to see our tips for getting through security quickly, below]

DHS: Lines Up to 200% Longer?

According to Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security, the effects of sequestration are already being felt and as quoted by Politico, she said some lines are “150 to 200% as long as we would normally expect.”

However, no specific airports were apparently mentioned, and when FareCompare contacted the TSA directly for clarification, it was not so clear-cut. The federal agency’s statement began by saying that as sequestration takes effect, travelers can expect lines and wait times to increase [emphasis FareCompare’s]. Here’s more:

Less airport hassle – for only 9 bucks? Maybe.

“With TSA staffing levels decreasing over time, we expect that during busy travel periods wait times exceeding 30-40 minutes could double at nearly all of the largest airports. In addition, passengers who schedule their travel outside of peak flight schedules and plan to arrive close to their scheduled flight time may see their wait times now reach 30 minutes or more.”

It does not appear to be as bad a picture as Napolitano paints but it’s not good, either.

How to Get through Security Quickly

There are a few things travelers can do, to make any trip through security a little easier:

  1. Join PreCheck: This program lets you get through security more quickly and keep your shoes on to. Find out if you’re eligible for PreCheck here.
  2. Get the app: The TSA has a mobile device app that let’s you know which security lines are longest and where there are fewer delays.
  3. Be prepared: Do your part by following all security rules; get your shoes off and laptop out and ditch the bottle of water.
  4. When in doubt: Arrive earlier. Wasting an hour at the airport is a lot easier than missing your flight and spending several hours trying to get on another one.

Have you had a rough time at security this week? Tell us where and what happened.


Published: March 5, 2013