The days of flying through an airport to catch a flight are long gone. Since 9/11, travelers have had to slow their roll and endure the sloth-like TSA pre-check lines.
As technology improved and fliers started to use Trusted Traveler programs like Global Entry, the pace of getting through the screening process has picked up. Still, getting the good-to-go from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can be a pain and often depends on whether you’re flying into or out of the U.S. or through an airline’s hub -- like Delta in Atlanta or American Airlines in Chicago.
UpgradedPoints decided to measure those TSA wait times at the best and worst times of day to see which times consumers should aim for when maneuvering their way through checkpoints.
The best domestic airport with the fastest TSA security line time was Salt Lake City International (SLC), with an average wait time of 9.1 minutes. SLC is the fourth-largest hub for Delta Air Lines, with nearly 300 daily departures. The airport also gets a lot of traffic from Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.
Here’s how the Top 5 in the “fastest” category match up:
Average TSA Wait Time (minutes)
Best & Worst Times to Go Through Security
Salt Lake (SLC)
Fastest: Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.
Slowest: Sunday from 11 p.m.-12 a.m. -- about 26 minutes.
Washington Dulles (IAD)
Fastest: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10-11 p.m. -- about 1 minute.
Slowest: Fridays from 9-10 a.m. -- about 28 minutes.
Boston Logan (BOS)
Fastest: Thursdays at 10-11 p.m. -- around 3 minutes.
Slowest: Friday at 5-6 p.m. -- close to 45 minutes.
Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSSP)
Fastest: Saturdays from 8-9 p.m. -- 1 minute.
Slowest: Mondays, 2-3 p.m. -- 43 minutes.
Charlotte (CLT) and Detroit Metro (DTW) -- tie
Fastest: Wednesday from 4-5 a.m. -- 2 minutes.
Slowest: Thursday from 5-6 p.m. -- 29-minute wait time.
Fastest: Thursday from 10-11 p.m. -- 1 minute wait time.
Slowest: Sunday from 5-6 a.m. -- about 33 minutes.
And the worst?
For those of you guessing that Atlanta’s Hartsfield (ATL) takes home the slower-than-molasses trophy, you’d be mistaken. While ATL is the busiest airport in the world and the 7th slowest based on UpgradedPoints analysis, it’s actually Newark Liberty International (EWR) that rules the losers bracket.
Given what ConsumerAffairs knows about the Newark airport, it can’t be much fun for travelers. Fliers going in and out of EWR are unhappy to begin with, but when you add in a thumb-twiddling 23.1 minutes to get through its TSA lines, that frustration goes up even higher.
“As with many airport inconveniences, however, there are steps you can take to avoid this wait time,” UpgradedPoints wrote. “If you’re booking a trip that goes through Newark, the best time to go through TSA would be Friday from 10-11 p.m., which had an average wait time of 15 minutes. The worst time would be Monday from 12-1 p.m., which would have you waiting in security lines for about 60 minutes.”
The Top 5 “worst” play out like this:
Average TSA Wait Time (minutes)
Best & Worst Times
to Go Through Security
Newark Liberty International (EWR)
Fastest: Friday from 10-11 p.m.,
which had an average wait time
of 15 minutes.
Slowest: Monday from 12 noon-1
p.m. -- 60 minutes.
George Bush Intercontinental, Houston (IAH)
Fastest: 5-6 a.m. on Wednesdays --
close to 51 minutes.
Slowest: Sunday from 5-6 p.m.
-- 51 minutes.
Miami International (MIA)
Fastest: Sunday from 10-11 p.m.
-- an average of about 8 minutes.
Slowest: Thursday, 4-5 a.m.
-- 37 minutes.
Baltimore-Washington International (BWI)
Fastest: Wednesday, Thursday,
and Friday from 10 – 11 p.m
. -- a 2 minutes average.
from 2-3 p.m. -- up to 35 minutes.
Las Vegas McCarron (LAS)
Fastest: Tuesday from
6-7 p.m. -- about 7 minutes.
6-7 a.m., -- 37 minutes.
“The wait time in TSA security lines is a common topic of conversation for travelers, and this study offers real data to back up what many experience at the airport,” UpgradedPoints’ Alex Miller told ConsumerAffairs. “Travelers can find information about their airport by using the TSA Security mobile app. It has historical wait time information by hour.”