One thing that is supposed to run smoothly every day in America is the airport traffic sending the millions of weekly travelers here and there around the country and to foreign countries. During periods of government shutdowns, running smoothly doesn’t always quite work out as smoothly as some travelers might have hoped. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has released an updated statement on its checkpoint operations showing average wait times at the major U.S. airports. In an extra note, the TSA also has given some statistics on large increases in its “unscheduled absences” from its pool of workers during the shutdown.
On January 14, 2019, the TSA screened some 1.89 million passengers, and roughly 99.1% of those passengers had to wait less than 30 minutes in line at airport security, and 94.3% of passengers waited less than 15 minutes. Those times were on average less than 10 minutes in the TSA pre-check lanes.
The TSA noted that national average wait times are still within the normal time of 30 minutes for standard security check-in lanes and 10 minutes for the TSA pre-check lines, but some airports experienced longer than expected wait times.
It has been widely reported in too many major and local media outlets that the partial government shutdown has had an impact on roughly 800,000 government workers at the various agencies affected by the shutdown. Affected as in on leave or working without pay. The TSA is one such agency, and it has disclosed that there was a national rate of 6.8% of unscheduled absences. If that figure sounds high, it should — that’s more than 1.7 times the past rate when compared to a 2.5% on the same day a year earlier. The TSA did not disclose the “call-out rates” at specific airports due to security concerns, and it said that some airports are exercising contingency plans to maintain effective security during higher call-out periods and high traffic volume.
Some airports are running far slower than others. Flying out of Houston’s two major airports is currently less than half of the time as in Dallas Love Field and still considerably lower than Dallas’s DFW. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson was the worst wait by far — 88 minutes as the max standard wait time and even 55 minutes for the max pre-check wait lines. The shortest standard maximum waits in regular screening lines were in Palm Beach International, Kahului Airport (Hawaii), and St. Louis Lambert International. with just nine minute standard maximum wait times.
Here is a look at all the TSA’s 42 top airports covered for how long you might expect to have to wait in minutes in the security lines.
|Top Airports||Max Standard Wait Time||Max Precheck Wait Time|
|Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport||10||3|
|Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport||88||55|
|Austin-Bergstrom International Airport||11||6|
|Bradley International Airport, Hartford||19||3|
|Logan International Airport, Boston||10||4|
|Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport||21||11|
|Charlotte Douglas International Airport||15||4|
|Dallas Love Field||41||5|
|Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport||19||4|
|Denver International Airport||14||7|
|Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport||25||8|
|Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport||19||4|
|Newark Liberty International Airport||28||7|
|Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport||19||5|
|Honolulu International Airport||29||9|
|William P. Hobby Airport, Houston||12||3|
|Westchester County Airport, White Plains||10||4|
|Washington Dulles International Airport||17||4|
|George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston||14||5|
|John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York||18||3|
|McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas||18||4|
|Los Angeles International Airport||14||4|
|LaGuardia Airport, New York||10||8|
|Orlando International Airport||18||4|
|Midway International Airport, Chicago||11||3|
|Miami International Airport||28||4|
|Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport||20||4|
|Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport||19||4|
|Oakland International Airport||12||6|
|O’Hare International Airport, Chicago||16||3|
|Palm Beach International Airport||9||8|
|Portland International Airport||17||4|
|Philadelphia International Airport||17||5|
|Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport||17||5|
|San Diego International Airport||16||7|
|Seattle-Tacoma International Airport||20||14|
|San Francisco International Airport||18||4|
|San Jose International Airport||15||6|
|Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, San Juan||21||5|
|Lambert-St. Louis International Airport||9||4|
|Tampa International Airport||11||4|