The news is everywhere – TSA lines are getting ridiculously long. At major airports, passengers are reporting wait times of two to three hours to get through security, according to a recent NY Times article (http://nyti.ms/1W35MiO). Lines are even getting so long that they are stretching throughout other areas of the terminal, completely outside the normal security lines.
The lines are caused by the perfect TSA storm: people are traveling more as the economy gets better, and the TSA is shrinking in size as its budget gets cut. In the worst cases, hundreds of people are missing their flights due to the extraordinarily long wait times.
And unfortunately for all of us, the lines are only expected to get longer as we move into the summer – peak travel season. We are all about saving time here at Grab, so what are some of the ways you can save time in the airport to make up for a longer wait in the security line?
- Sign up for a program that let’s you fast-pass through the security line, such as the program offered by our friends over at CLEAR (clearme.com), or TSA’s Pre-Check program. You can sign up for Pre-Check directly (https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply), or you can sign up for the Global Entry program (http://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/how-apply), which gets you access to pre-check as well as Global Entry for international travel. These programs do have a fee to join, but will save you significant time in the long run.
- Try to travel on non-peak days, such as Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday night. There are usually much fewer people in the airport on these days, so if it will work with your travel schedule, you could avoid some congestion by flying then.
- Avoid early morning departures – this is usually the busiest time for airport security, because it’s when most people try to fly.
- Pack and dress to minimize the chance you are slowed down through security. Follow the rules of TSA, and if possible put things like your phone, wallet, keys, belt, etc. in your backpack so you don’t have to mess with getting them in & out of tubs in security.
- Carry on your bag and download a mobile boarding pass before you get to the airport, so you can skip the initial check-in line and go straight to security.
And (shameless plug) you can always use Grab to save yourself some time while you’re at the airport. You can plan out your route ahead of time using our maps, and you can order your food from the app to avoid waiting in line when you get to the restaurant. But of course, you already knew that one.