TSA Warns: Travel Wait Times Expected to Double


Now that the sequestration has been enacted, travelers need to start preparing for a bumpy ride.

In a statement this week, the Transportation Security Administration announced that they “expect that during busy travel periods wait times exceeding 30-40 minutes could double at nearly all of the largest airports”. What are the causes of the increased wait times?

  • Reductions in overtime and lack of backfill positions
  • TSA hiring freeze – an additional 1,000 Transportation Security Officer vacancies expected by Memorial Day and 2,600 vacancies by end of year

This is bad news for travelers who are already being inundated by increasing airlines fees. The cuts also come when travel season is the busiest in the spring and summer months. Even smart travelers who plan on traveling during off peak times will be affected by longer waits.

Some airports have even started to close some of their security lines. For example, Spirit Airlines posted an announcement on their website which states, “DFW TSA checkpoint closing promptly at 11:30 pm due to budget sequester”. So it might be a good idea to check with your carrier for special notifications before your flight.

Although travelers won’t immediately notice the longer wait times caused by the sequestration, it is certain that Memorial Day and summer travelers will be hit hard.

Tips for traveling post-sequestration:

  • Be very generous with your time estimates – arrive to the airport 2 to 3 times earlier than you normally do
  • If you’re looking to book a ticket with more than one leg, make sure you give youself at least 3 hours to connect
  • If you’re traveling with children, make sure to pack plenty of snacks and activities for them since you will be spending much more time in lines and at the airport