Beware of Long Security Lines – Now, and This Summer

U.S. airlines have a message for all passengers: Get to the airport early! And that message is for anyone traveling now or anyone planning on traveling during peak summer travel months of June, July and August.

LISTEN: Can lines blow a trip? Rick Seaney: “Yep.”

Long Security Lines – What Airlines Say

According to media stories like this one from the Los Angeles Times, longer wait times can be blamed on several factors including “more travelers, a delay in hiring additional airport screeners and more extensive security measures adopted in the last year.”

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. In recent weeks, long lines have reportedly meant hundreds have missed their flights.

A list of airline advisories; click the name for more information.

  • Alaska: “Lengthy TSA security wait times are expected through September.”
  • American: “Longer security lines this spring & summer”
  • Delta: “We recommend visiting and applying for TSA PreCheck.”
  • Frontier: Especially long lines seen in “Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago O’Hare and Denver.”
  • United: “We’re seeing longer than usual lines in Las Vegas.”
  • Virgin America: “Arrive at the airport 2+ hours ahead.”

How to Beat the Long Security Lines

We like the first suggestion best.

  • Sign up for PreCheck: It’s only $85 for five years but worth its weight in gold for zipping past all the other passengers. Yes, there is an in-person interview but it only takes a few minutes. Learn more about PreCheck here.
  • Get to the airport extra early: Arrive two hours early for domestic flights; arrive three hours early for international flights. At least.
  • Use the TSA app: Among other things, this app tells you waiting times for security lines in airports around the country. Find the app here and you may find it works best if you know your airport code and you’ll find a list of codes here.

Go early. You may have to sit around for a while, staring at the ‘beautiful’ airport decor but that’s a heckuva lot better than missing a flight.


Updated: April 20, 2016