Why TSA lines are so long and what you can do about it!

TSA lines are longer than ever and some passengers are missing their flights due to the long wait times. Some lines are taking up to 3 hours to get through. There will be approximately 740 million passengers traveling this fiscal year, a 15% increase since 2013. Over that same time period, TSA lost more than 4,000 screeners! Therefore, that means longer lines, more delays and more frustration. U.S. airlines are charging more and more to check baggage and as a result passengers are filling up their carry-on bags. Packing them to capacity only makes for additional screening and possible flagging of oversized items. Unfortunately, these are some of the reasons why we have to stand in these long lines. The lines have become so long that some airports are providing entertainment while waiting. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has horses, mini therapy horses. And San Diego International Airport is bringing in the clowns, literally.

As frustrating as these long lines can be, there are some helpful tips that Carol’s Travel would like to share with you to prepare yourself for getting through the TSA lines as quickly as possible.

  • The obvious…arrive early…at least 2-3 hours for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights
  • Register for the TSA PreCheck program as a way to get through the security lines quicker. Registering for Global Entry helps you move through USA immigration much faster.  You can register on the TSA website:  https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck
  • ON-LINE Check in, which most major airlines will allow you to do within 24 hours of your flight’s departure time. When you check in online you can also — and should — print your boarding pass, or send a mobile boarding pass to your smart phone. That’s another step done before you even set foot in the airport.
  • Have your boarding pass and ID ready
  • Follow the 3-1-1 rule for packing liquids in your carry-on bag. That means each passenger may bring as many 3.4 ounce (or less) bottles of liquids, gels and aerosols that can be packed in one quart-sized, clear plastic zip-top bag — 3 ounces, 1 bag, 1 person. You should follow this TSA link to get these specific requirements and other screening processes. https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule or go to https://www.tsa.gov/

Carol has traveled through both Chicago Midway and Chicago O’Hare Airports within the past couple weeks and reported there were extremely long security lines but she flies through with her TSA PreCheck. TSA has added on more personnel in Chicago that we’ve heard is a help…but better be safe than sorry. Arrive early!