Forget baseball. THIS is our National Pastime: Hurry up and wait. We’ve done everything we can, as a nation, to improve efficiency and limit wait times. Unsurprisingly, it’s coming back to bite us.
If you haven’t seen the headlines yet, then perhaps you have experienced the unrivaled despair of waiting in the TSA line as the minutes tick by and you worry about catching your flight. (I know I have.)
Newsflash: Nothing is going to change any time soon. The powers-that-be are still at the finger-pointing stage and haven’t quite progressed to solution discussions. As disappointing as that may be, don’t rage against the inevitable; prepare for it.
TSA-Wait Survival Skills:
Get to the airport early.
Some airlines are suggesting 3 hours before flight time (yes, for domestic flights). Avoid traveler stress-out, re-booking fees for flights and/or car rentals and/or hotels by making sure you’re on time.
Use the TSA App or website to check security wait times.
You can be a good citizen and post security wait times, too. Road warriors, you know which checkpoints back up and which don’t. IE: In ATL, you may consider heading to the International Terminal if you’re not leaving in the evening when all the International flights depart (note: ATL doesn't recommend this). In PHL, try A or B, or E/F because C/D is usually like quicksand. Have checkpoint-road-warrior knowledge? Share it in our comments section or on our Facebook page! But remember: TSA-checkpoint-roulette is a professional's game.
Look at your ticket.
Did you get Pre-Check? Congratulations on your miracle. Proceed to the short line and keep your shoes on. Don't be the fool who forgets to check their ticket and waits 30 minutes longer than you needed to. (Yes. I have done this, too.)
Pay to play.
If you travel enough, you should probably apply for Pre-Check or Global Entry. Keep in mind, this is not a silver bullet – low TSA staffing means there still may only be a few checkpoints open, but at least you won’t have to wait for the people in front of you to take off half their clothing and unpack their bags in the line.
Know before you go.
Meaning: you know it’s going to be a terrible line, so stick in your headphones, read a book, practice meditation-while-moving… whatever is going to keep you calm and moving forward (albeit in a snaking, single-file fashion).
Take early flights.
That may mean you have to get up before the birds, but if the insanity of the security line DOES make you miss your flight, you’ll have more next-flight options to choose from. As soon as the gate agent (or your World Travel, Inc. consultant) rebooks you, hop on the free wifi that most airports now offer, and take advantage of an entire hour with no scheduled meetings.
Tell a friend.
Spread the word. You can use our picture: