Avoiding the Long Waits at Airport Security Lines

Planning your travel involves much more than just finding the cheapest airline tickets. FareCompare readers are savvy travelers, and know that a long security wait time can have a significant impact on how enjoyable travel is, and on how to schedule travel days.

The Transportation Security Agency has an app you can use, either on your computer or mobile device, to find out airport security wait times. The Customs and Border Protection Agency also has a web page that can fetch average security wait times for an airport for a given time period, but the data is incomplete, so you cannot always get the information you are looking for.

New TSA Security Measures for Kids Under 12

Security wait times increased around the year 2008, when many airlines started charging for checked luggage, resulting in a spike in use of carry-on luggage. But with passengers and screeners adjusting to those demands, and new TSA rules, such as one that allows children under 12 to keep their shoes on, average security wait times are dropping, and that is good news as we head into the busy holiday travel season.

Security Wait Times at the 25 Busiest U.S. Airports
It is not always easy to find out the average security wait times for airports, so we have compiled the following table of the 25 busiest U.S. airports along with average security wait time at each one. The information was gleaned from TSA statistics. It is a good idea to keep up with current events that could affect security wait times, and avail yourself of current security information via apps like the ones listed above when scheduling your travel days.

9 Ways Security Has Changed Since 9/11

Additionally, keep in mind that these numbers are averages. That means that, within an airport, if one security checkpoint has a wait time of 10 minutes and another has a wait time of zero minutes, it averages out to 5 minutes, even though one checkpoint is much slower than the other.

City Airport Average Wait Time (min)
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

7

Chicago O’Hare International Airport

3

Los Angeles Los Angeles International Airport

7

Dallas-Fort Worth Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

4

Denver Denver International Airport

5

Las Vegas McCarran International Airport

7

New York City John F. Kennedy International Airport

6

Phoenix Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

5

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport

3

Newark Newark Liberty International Airport

4

Detroit Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport

4

Minneapolis-St. Paul Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport

4

Orlando Orlando International Airport

4

San Francisco San Francisco International Airport

3

Miami Miami International Airport

3

Philadelphia Philadelphia International Airport

5

Charlotte Charlotte/Douglas International Airport

4

Seattle Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

6

Boston Logan International Airport

1

New York City LaGuardia Airport

7

Washington, D.C. Washington Dulles International Airport

2

Baltimore Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

6

Salt Lake City Salt Lake City International Airport

3

Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

6

Honolulu Honolulu International Airport

3

The more informed you are about security conditions when you fly, the more likely you will be to be able to plan accordingly and make the most of your trip. So when you are booking airline tickets, do not forget to check out the airports you will be flying in and out of, so you are prepared for navigating their security checkpoints.

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Published: November 30, 2011