January 22, 2019

2018 Report: US Airports Waiting Time

ESTA USA US Airports Waiting Time

Government Shutdown Explained

In a normal budget process Congress allocates funds for the following fiscal year by 30th September or else it enacts a continuing funding resolution. But if Congress can’t agree on any of the processes, it forces a shutdown. A government shutdown happens when non-essential or optional federal programs close because Congress fails to fund them appropriately due to any reason.   Because 5 billion dollars bill was not included in the budget to build the wall on the Mexico border and the Democrats and Republicans could not come to the conclusion the government shutdown was forced.  On 21st December 2018, the government shutdown was a fact and became the longest shutdown in the history of U.S.

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Transportation Security Administration employees (TSA)

TSA- Transportation Security Administration is in charge of protecting the national transportation systems and ensuring the freedom of movement of people and their safety.  Millions of passengers get screened by TSA every day as they pass through the security checkpoints at the airports. However, the Government deadlock is impacting the operations of TSA and its employees. The reasons behind the queues and disruptions are the result of TSA staffing issues. Due to the Government shutdown, and the impossibility of paying their stuff, many TSA agents chose to quit. Airports are fully functional but with no proper TSA staff so the wait time at the airports is constantly increasing.

Airport Waiting Time is a major concern not only for the passengers but also for the airport security and immigration officials.  Still, TSA agents are working round the clock to handle all that extra workload and yet they are friendly and upbeat to the travellers. TSA was already forced to close some of the screening lanes at some airports. Now, with limited people force, security is the major concern.

Impact of government shutdown

During the shutdown many other facilities were affected too, among which the state funded museums. Visitors were either redirected or left alone without medical or other support in the U.S. National parks. A lot of state workers had to quit and some are running out of funds.

Major concerns are the order and security at the national airports. It is now common to see long queues before the security screening.  The government shutdown has only intensified those long queues and added to the woes of the harried travellers. Many airports are getting disrupted because of the government deadlock. So far, the queues on the Newark Airport seem to be the longest before the security screening. The Miami International and Houston George Bush airports have already closed one of their terminals making the wait times growing.

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The average U.S. airports wait time

Usually, the average wait time at US airports is about 15 minutes. However, ever since the Government shutdown, the wait times have escalated. The waiting time at the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has stretched to almost 90 minutes at the checkpoint.  As for other major airports, the wait times varied but were about 15 minutes to 30 minutes.  The maximum wait times were seen in Miami, Tampa, Huston, and Honolulu at about half an hour. Atlanta airport saw almost an hour and a half of wait time since the government shutdown began. Many airports are now urging their passengers to arrive early.

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Getting data regarding airport wait times

Most passengers are getting anxious about the long wait time and want to know about the average wait time on the specific day they’re traveling. As most airports don’t publish the wait times on their websites, passengers can rely on MyTSA app to get this information. TSA recommends that the travellers should download and use the official app to get an estimate on security wait times at all national airports. However, one must take into account that regarding the time spent at the queues, the information on MyTSA is based on passengers’ witnesses and their experience at the queues and therefore, it can be kind of misleading, and yet it gives an idea on the general wait time. Some of the U.S. airports’ websites are also publishing the estimated wait time.


Nationwide Top AirportsMax Standard Wait timesMax TSA Prev Wait timesNationwide Top AirportsMax Standard Wait timesMax TSA Prev Wait times
Anchorage city – ANC101Los Angeles – LAX154
Atlanta, Georgia – ATL2310LaGuardia Airport – LGA137
Austin, Texas – AUS94Orlando, Florida, US  – MCO173
Windsor Locks – BDL 142Chicago Midway – MDW143
Boston – BOS 74Miami – MIA193
Baltimore, Washington D.C.  –BWI2211Minnesota, US -MSP173
Charlotte, North Carolina, US – CLT102MSY – Louisiana, United States103
Dallas, Texas – DAL97Oakland, California, US – OAK83
Arlington, Virginia  – DCA94Kahului, US – OGG155
Denver, Colorado, US – DEN144Chicago, Illinois – ORD185
Dallas – FW204Palm Beach County, Florida – PBI86
Michigan, Detroit – DTW154Portland US – PDX74
New Jersey – EWR254Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US – PHL104
Florida, United States – FLL184Phoenix, Arizona, United States – PHX113
Honolulu, Oahu – HNL188San Diego, California, US – SAN123
Houston, Texas – HOU63Seattle US – SEA128
Westchester County, New York –  HPN53San Francisco, California, US, – SFO194
Loudoun, Fairfax counties, Virginia – IAD108San Jose, California, US – SJC135
Houston airport -IAH214 Carolina, Puerto Rico,  – SJU244
Queens, NY – JFK194St. Louis, Missouri, United States – STL
Vegas Valley- LAS182Tampa, Hillsborough, Florida, US – TPA164

See also: What to Choose – A Visa Or An Online Travel Permit ESTA?

MyTSA app

MyTSA app provides access to the airport security 24/7.  Among the information provided one can check the items banned for boarding. It also shows how to wrap and prepare the items before boarding. Waiting time, delays as well as weather conditions at different airports can also be checked. One can also get a general idea on how busy a particular airport is likely to be on a specific day and time of travel. TSA live assistance is also offered in order to get ready for the security checkpoint.