How can you get through the airport faster?

How can you get through the airport faster?
How can you get through the airport faster?

MINNEAPOLIS — If you traveled this holiday weekend, you may have helped break a record. A total of 3,013,413 passengers went through TSA checkpoints on Sunday. This is the highest number ever consumed in a single day.

The rush may have caused delays, so we wanted to know: How can we get through the airport faster? Good question.

Last Friday, around 11:30 a.m., wait times at TSA checkpoints in Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport were a comfortable five minutes. Travelers would accept that any day, but that time is a far cry from the reality that often awaits already nervous people trying to catch their flight.

“I have TSA PreCheck, which helps with security,” said Jessica Vankirk of Maple Grove when we asked her how she tries to minimize her time at the airport.

It is the express route through security that travelers swear by.

“I travel almost weekly, so it speeds up my process,” said Josiah Ness of Idaho.

TSA spokeswoman Jessica Mayle said the agency’s standard wait times are 30 minutes or less for regular passengers and 10 minutes or less for TSA PreCheck.

“Most of the time, you don’t have to wait anywhere near 30 or 10 minutes for either, but I think it puts people’s minds at ease knowing that the wait time (with TSA PreCheck) is generally shorter,” she said.

In addition to shorter waiting times, travelers also do not have to remove their shoes, electronic devices, liquids or clothing. It costs $78 but is valid for five years.

“Your children can also benefit from your PreCheck benefits, so if you have all children under 17 traveling on the same reservation, they will have PreCheck on their boarding pass as well,” Mayle said.

CLEAR is another paid service, but it lets you skip security and go straight to baggage check after a quick stop at a kiosk. However, it’s more expensive at $179 per year.

What common mistakes do people make in the TSA line that slow them down? Oversized liquids top the list, Mayle said.

“Big bottles of water, big bottles of shampoo, sunscreen this time of year,” Mayle said.

Liquids must not exceed 100ml in your hand luggage. Pack them in a clear bag so they are easy to see at security. And remember to pour out the water bottle before you get in line.

Before arriving at the airport, travelers can find out how long security lines might be using several digital apps on their phones. One of them is called MyTSA. It gives users an estimated wait time for the current hour and projected wait times for the rest of the day based on historical data. They can even find out if any of the airport checkpoints are closed.

“I use Flightrader24 and an app called Flighty. I usually find that these apps know before the airline does whether my flights are on time, delayed or not,” says Clint Henderson, editor-in-chief of The Points Guy.

“Are there certain days when it’s less busy than others?” “Absolutely,” says Henderson.

“You want to travel on Saturdays. That’s probably the best day to travel. Those are the days when the airports are the least busy and prices can also be cheaper on Saturdays,” Henderson said.

There also tends to be less going on during the week, especially from Tuesday to Thursday. The other days, Sunday, Monday and Friday, are the busiest.

And like the highway, rush hour at the airport is typically 5am-7am and 4pm-7pm, with a lull often between 11am-2pm.

Several airports now offer the ability to reserve a spot at the TSA in advance on their website. At MSP Airport, this is only possible in Terminal 2.

If a traveler has a medical condition or disability, there is a program called TSA Cares to help them. An agent will assist the traveler through security. Other groups that can receive assistance from TSA Cares include seniors, the military, parents traveling with children, and more.

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