A couple days ago I arrived at the Orlando International Airport with my crew to work a flight to Salt Lake City. We walked into a scene of immediate chaos: parents clung to crying children, business travelers clipped roller bags as they sped to the TSA precheck lines, and everywhere was clogged with too much luggage.
The choke point for all this mess was, of course, TSA security. And according to Forbes, it’s only going to get worse.
Forbes sites a few reasons for this growing trend including TSA budget cuts that have led to a significant reduction in staff. (There will be 12% fewer TSA staff this summer than in 2011). Security screenings have also become more elaborate and time intensive. And in general, more people are traveling.
All this combined means longer lines and longer wait times to get through security.
And it’s not just Orlando, of course.
Almost every major airport I’ve travelled in and out of recently has had masses of people snaking around an immense tangle of TSA security lines, which are often overflowing.
Last week, Alaska Airlines warned travelers flying out of Seattle to give themselves a whole extra hour, on top of the recommended hour, because security lines were just that long. This was mid-morning on a Thursday before the spring break rush. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like at peak times this summer.
What you can do:
1. Give yourself more time to get through security by arriving to the airport extra early.
2. Monitor specific airports on social media for updated information on current line conditions.
3. Consider applying for TSA precheck, especially if you travel a lot. Although fewer TSA personnel means longer wait times for everyone, TSA precheck should still be a lot faster; the TSA precheck lines are often the shortest, and even if their not, the security screenings are less intense and so take less time.
4. Try to plan your flights at times that are less likely to be busy. That means avoiding the business rush in the early mornings and nights when delays throughout the day have piled up. Your best days to fly to avoid extra long lines are Tuesday through Thursday.
— Laura Rowley