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Should We Expect Long Security Lines at Airports This Holiday Season?

Should We Expect Long Security Lines at Airports This Holiday Season?

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By Dr. Robert Gordon
Program Director, Reverse Logistics Management at American Public University

Waiting in the security line at an airport is the bane of travelers. Everyone expects the line to move slowly while the same announcement drones on and on about belts, shoes and the extremely small quantity of liquids permitted on board.

We all understand the need for security and want to help. However, we are less enthusiastic about waiting a long time to go through security checkpoints.

Security lines are not new. But in the U.S., the airport waiting lines were once worse before they started to improve.

DHS Working Hard to Reduce Passengers’ Time in Security Lines

This year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and many airport authorities have worked hard to improve security processes and reduce the time travelers must wait in security lines.

The United States has certainly improved the security and safety of those involved with air travel. Despite the claims of some travelers, many U.S. airports are well-run and efficient entities that operate year-round and move millions of people.

It’s even possible now to look up an airport online to find out the security wait time averages. This information helps travelers plan when they should get to the airport.

TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry Programs Help Speed Travelers

These security improvements have not come easily. DHS trained thousands of employees and deploy many new technologies and procedures to reduce screening time. There have also been new programs, such as TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, that help frequent travelers move faster through security checkpoints.

Also, there are private organizations, such as CLEAR, that offer expedited clearance through certain airport terminals. The more CLEAR travelers have been pre-screened, the faster they and all travelers pass through security lines.

Consider Pre-Screen Programs to Make Your Travel Easier

If you are going to fly even a few times a year, consider going through the TSA Pre-Check process or joining an organization like CLEAR. Both options reduce the wait time going through security.

Look into the Global Entry program if you are a frequent international traveler. Global Entry drastically cuts your time waiting to enter the United States.

Of course, all of these programs require filling out paperwork and being subject to a background check and possibly other screening in advance. But they make for a much more satisfying travel experience.

Even with Security Improvements, Get to Your Airport Early

Although the average wait time has decreased, do not plan on showing up just before boarding and expect to make it through the security line, especially during this holiday season. The screening system is more efficient, but it still takes time to move through the various checkpoints to ensure everyone’s safety.

The difference now is that most likely you will not face those two-hour-plus security lines that were common when airport security increased shortly after 9/11.

About the Author

Dr. Robert Gordon has 25 years of professional experience in supply chain and human resources. Robert has earned a Doctorate of Management and Organizational Leadership, an MBA and a B.A. in History. He has authored over 100 published articles, including five books covering a variety of business topics.

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