Please know this is NOT a political commentary or post!
On any given day in American airports there is a wait in the security lines for TSA to perform their security checks to keep travelers as safe as possible. With the current partial government shutdown, those lines have grown increasingly slower and with that it has impacted and disrupted not only the passenger’s schedules, but the airports as well.
Major airports are feeling the weight of staffing issues with the Transportation Security Administration employees. A lot of federal workers, including TSA agents, are not getting paid and some workers are calling in sick or have quit their jobs altogether.
For example, Houston’s Bush has one complete terminal security checkpoint closed, Miami International has had to reduce their checkpoints over the weekend of January 12, 2019 and Atlanta has increased their wait times by an hour or more since the shutdown. This is repeating itself across the country, no matter the size or traffic of the airport, it is being impacted.
Most airports already suggest that you arrive 2 hours prior to your departure. And on an average the TSA says that the normal wait time is 15 to 30 minutes. As the security checkpoint slows, the passenger must accommodate as well. So what is a good guideline for arrival at your airport?
My TSA app is a resource provided by the TSA, however most of the current wait times are crowdsourced, meaning the app users reporting their times and experiences. While their input is good, it is not necessarily always reliable due to changes far after these users have departed. The best resource is the airport that you are departing from. Often calling the airport will give you the current suggested arrival and wait times, as should the social media accounts for the airport. In this day and time, and until the shutdown is completed, travelers should arrive at least 1 hour earlier than you normally would.
So besides arrival times, there are other important tips to keep your travels on track. Shutdown or not, these guidelines are always good to follow.
- When possible, check in online and verify the details of your flight.
- Print boarding passes and have your identification and passport information as needed readily available.
- Sign up for alerts from your airline, and when offered, from the departing airport as well.
- Download apps such as from airlines, airports and informational travel sites.
- Always arrive earlier than you need to.
- To get through the security lines quicker, be aware of your clothing. Easily removable shoes and outerwear are in order. Also, pay attention to any jewelry that could potentially set off the alerts and alarms, certain metals and anything shaped as a weapon often attract added screening.
- Remember to place shoes and electronics in the small bins for screening.
- Know the liquids rule. Nothing larger than 3.4 oz. and make sure they are group together in re-sealable plastic bags. This includes medications and other essential items.
- If you are travelling with medical equipment, such as oxygen and insulin pumps, please check your airline’s website for current information regarding on board rules.
- Be prepared for anything and everything, patience is always in order!
Hopefully this shutdown will come to an end soon. While travelling is always going to have a good measure of waiting with it, remember the journey and the destination are always worth the wait.