Traveling Through These 10 U.S. Airports? Better Arrive Extra Early

Long lines may be in your future. These are the U.S. airports with the worst security wait times.

There are two types of travelers: Those who arrive at the airport early (the recommend two or three hours prior to the flight time) and those who casually stroll in as the plane is boarding. If you recognize yourself as the first type, wait times may not often be an issue for you. But if you hope to breeze through security, chances are you’ve come close to missing your flight due to long wait times.

While early arrivals help to avoid the stress of travel and navigating security lines, all airports are not created equal. Some have a reputation for zipping passengers through security in under five minutes, while others are just considered slow. Which U.S. airports have earned the title of the country’s worst for security wait times? We’ve got the info.

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The 10 worst airports for security wait times

The airport control tower at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan with a weather front moving in behind it.simplycmb/Getty Images

According to a comprehensive report by Planet Ware, an online source for travel guides, these 10 airports have the longest average security wait times, so plan ahead if you’re departing from these destinations.

  1. Cherry Capital Airport, Traverse City, Michigan, 28.10 minutes
  2. Palm Springs International Airport, Palm Springs, California, 26.70 minutes
  3. Lihue Airport, Lihue, Hawaii, 23.60 minutes
  4. Monterey Peninsula Regional Airport, Monterey, California, 23.40 minutes
  5. Lynchburg Preston Glenn Field Regional Airport, Lynchburg, Virginia, 22.70 minutes
  6. Midland International Airport, Midland, Texas, 22.10 minutes
  7. Tri-Cities Airport, Blountville, Tennessee, 21.50 minutes
  8. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, New Orleans, 20.70 minutes
  9. Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, 20.50 minutes
  10. Central Illinois Regional Airport, Bloomington, Illinois, 20.30 minutes

The 10 busiest airports with the longest security wait times

Hawaiian airlines airplane being fueled and loaded for the next flight at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.UCG/Getty Images

Some airports are more likely to be visited than others, so Planet Ware also narrowed down the list of the longest wait times to the airports with the most passengers on average each year. These are the busiest airports with the longest average wait times.

  1. Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, O’ahu, Hawaii, 20.5 minutes
  2. O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, 19.5 minutes
  3. Midway International Airport, Chicago, 18.4 minutes
  4. George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, 17.1 minutes
  5. Tampa International Airport, Tampa Bay, Florida, 17.1 minutes
  6. San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, 16.4 minutes
  7. Washington Dulles International Airport, Dulles, Virginia, 16.3 minutes
  8. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, 14.5 minutes
  9. Orlando International Airport, Orlando, Florida, 14.5 minutes
  10. Logan International Airport, Boston, 13.2 minutes

How were the longest security wait times determined?

The website’s travel experts collected data from more than 150 airports across the country. They gathered data each day for one week during the busiest time, which happens to be from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. From there, they ranked the airports from the longest to shortest wait times.

Tips for getting through security faster

 Airplane passengers line up for TSA security screenings at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado.Robert Alexander/Getty Images

No matter which airport is the starting point for your next trip, getting through security can be a hassle. Here are a handful of tips that will help you zip through the line quickly, so there’s no need to rush to your gate.

Sign up for Clear, TSA Precheck or Global Entry

Depending on where you plan to travel, any combination of Clear, TSA Precheck or Global Entry may help you save quite a bit of time when getting through security. A Clear membership is a faster identification process that allows you to skip to the front of the line. TSA Precheck provides an expedited screening program for flights originating in the United States. And Global Entry gives prescreened, low-risk travelers the opportunity to pass through U.S. Customs and Border Protection faster when returning to the U.S. from an international flight.

Know the TSA liquid limit

If you plan to pack your toiletries in your carry-on, it’s important to know about the TSA liquid limit and exceptions, as well as TSA food rules. For instance, liquids under 3.4 ounces are permitted in carry-on luggage; larger liquids must be packed in a checked bag or they will be confiscated by TSA agents.

Book the first flight of the day

The earlier your flight departs, the less likely there is to be an overcrowded security line. If you book the first flight of the day, you are bound to zip through security quickly, and you’re far less likely to experience flight delays.

Pack carry-on luggage properly

It’s not just larger liquids that can’t go in your carry-on. Familiarize yourself with the TSA’s carry-on rules in advance of your flight and pack accordingly. If you need to pack items that are not permitted in a carry-on, arrive at the airport early in order to check your bag.

Make sure your license or passport is up-to-date

TSA agents are responsible for verifying your identity before allowing you through security, which means you’ll need an up-to-date license or passport. If you arrive at the airport with expired identification, you are likely to spend far more time navigating security, and in some cases you may not be permitted to board your flight at all.


  • TSA: “What Can I Bring?”
  • Planet Ware: “Analysis: The U.S. Airports That Keep You Waiting”

Nina Derwin
Nina Derwin is a Brooklyn-based writer with a passion for the art of storytelling who covers the latest trends in popular culture, entertainment, health and personal finance. Nina has written for a number of publications, including Beyondish, Redbook, Country Living, Esquire, Delish and Digital Trends, as well as several episodes of scripted television.