Travel Like a Pro: How to Prepare for Longer TSA Lines This Summer

Prepare for Longer TSA Lines this Summer

If you travel by passenger jet, you experience that good feeling when you breeze through the TSA line with your patience and dignity intact. However, TSA lines are getting longer, which means breezing through is becoming less common. Here are six tips to help your security line experience go more quickly:

Arrive Two Hours Before Your Flight

The FAA has recommended this for many years: Arrive at the airport two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international trips. You’re not alone if you have flouted those guidelines. But you now do so at your own risk. American Airlines says 70,000 of its passengers missed their flights this year because of TSA backups, and that was before the busy Memorial Day weekend.

Sign up for the TSA PreCheck Program

This recommendation can prove useful when even saving a few minutes can make a difference. Go to TSA’s website to see how to apply. If you are a low-risk, your boarding passes will be marked accordingly. You then look for the TSA PreCheck line when you’re ready to pass through security. The program costs $85 for five years, which is a great value compared to the potential time loss and missed flights.

Affiliated Rewards Credit Card

Certain co-branded credit cards can give you access to faster security check lines. There are certain caveats, however. For example, the platinum American Express card can only provide access to priority lanes at some airports if you are traveling to Delta. Therefore, check your credit card provider to see if they have a relationship with specific airports and/or airlines. If not, find an affiliated credit card that works with your preferred airline and departure airport.

Get Membership Reward Perks

One of the advantages of often traveling the same airline is racking up miles and getting to check in and board early if you have a certain level of membership status. But certain airlines also give their elite members the benefit of access to priority security lines. Check often, however, because airlines sometimes change their elite status qualifications and benefits.

Fly When Others Are Not Flying

The busiest parts of each day at airports are usually early morning and late afternoon/evening. If you can schedule your departing flight late morning to early afternoon, you will usually experience shorter TSA lines. As you know, weekends are also the busiest travel days. Your best bet is to schedule your departure flight during the middle of the week. Every airport is a little different, however, so check your departure airport’s rush hours.

Stay Organized

Being prepared before you reach the airport and as you navigate the security line can also make a big difference.
Always have your paperwork ready.
Wear slip-on shoes that are easy to take off and put back on.
Adhere to TSA rules on the 3 oz. Limit on liquids and gels.
Check your large electronics as much as possible because having laptops and cameras examined can slow down the line.
Be nice. Being a TSA security officer is one of the most thankless jobs there is.

Individually, none of these tips may save you a lot of time going through TSA lines. As a whole, however, they can help you travel this summer like a pro.


Navigating through TSA security lines doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With the right knowledge, you can make it through smoothly even during peak travel seasons. It pays to plan ahead and understand the rules and regulations of your departure airport so that you don’t run into any nasty surprises on the day of your flight. Be mindful of potential delays due to rush hours or extra security measures, and be prepared with the right documents and items to make sure you get to your gate on time. Ultimately, a bit of pre-planning can save you time, stress, and hassle in the long run. Bon voyage!