Waiting in line at security has long been an unavoidable part of air travel, but these last few months it has gotten worse. The Transportation Security Administration has warned flyers to arrive at airports at least two hours before flights and three if flying internationally. Sometimes even that isn't enough. One YouTube video shows the line at Chicago's Midway Airport stretch to infinity and beyond — nearly to the subway station. Finally, Monday the head of the TSA got the boot in response. And maybe his successor will have all the answers, but in the meantime, how do you check TSA wait times?
There's an app for that. No, really. And it's also available on Android. You can use this mobile website if you wish — it also will load on a desktop. Whether in the app or on the site, you need to click on "wait times." Then you enter the three-digit airport code if you know it (or search by city and state) to find crowd-sourced TSA wait times. Many of them are referencing the wait if you qualify for TSA Precheck, so make sure to pay close attention.
This could help reduce stress if you're running late, but delays can pop up at any moment, so don't plan to cut it close just because the latest entry said their was no wait at your checkpoint.
Twitter can also be a good place to search. Just type in your city's airport code and "TSA" or "security" into the search box. You'll be find some unhappy tweets, but some of the information is useful. Hashtag #ihatethewait has been trending too, thanks to support from an airline industry trade group looking to pressure the government into improving security wait times.
The real relief will come when more TSA agents are hired, a process that will now be overseen by Darby LaJoye, who has replaced Kelly Hoggan as the head of security at TSA. LaJoye previously oversaw operations at two of the nation's largest airports, Los Angeles International Airport and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The shortage of personnel — as well as more flyers taking to the skies — were given as reasons for the long delays. New hires and overtime pay for the existing officers was approved earlier this month by Congress.
Another reason may be that fewer flyers than anticipated have taken part in the TSA Precheck program. You can move through faster by leaving liquids in your bag, and shoes on your feet after passing a background check and paying $85 for a five-year membership. If lines like these keep up, that might be a small price to pay.