How To Travel With Ease

Looking for a way to beat the long security wait times at the airport? Find out how with this quick, helpful guide.

Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, you may have travel anxiety over how much time getting through the airport and security may take. Your stress may only increase if you have family or friends to get through the airport as well. It usually means you need to have everything timed perfectly.

Fortunately, there are ways to make your airport experience smooth and seamless from beginning to end. You may even be able to reduce the amount of time you spend in the airport. Follow along with this handy guide to learn how much time you typically need to get through the airport, how much time it takes to go through airport security, why there are so many airport security measures, and how to get through the airport and airport security faster. 

How Much Time Do You Need to Get Through the Airport?

Most airlines advise their passengers to arrive early at the airport. They suggest arriving two hours before domestic flights, and three hours or more before international flights. You may wonder if this is truly necessary or why that is the case. 

How Much Time Do You Need to Get Through an Airport for a Domestic Flight? 

If you are leaving from a small city airport, you will likely have an easier and shorter time getting through the airport. Typically, they have an easy-to-follow airport map system. You simply arrive at the airport, find appropriate parking, or get dropped off, and you can find the departure gates easily. If you are an experienced traveler, know your airport well, and have booked a flight during a non-busy time, you may have luck arriving only an hour before your flight. 

How Much Time Do You Need to Get Through an Airport for an International Flight? 

International airports are much larger and more complex. They offer both domestic and international flights. Furthermore, they usually have different terminals. You will need to navigate parking or drop-off appropriately and arrive at the proper departure locations. You will also have longer security checks. 

Furthermore, you may find your wait times are particularly long on holidays, long weekends, Friday afternoons and evenings, and Monday mornings. In these cases, you may wish to spare extra time to get through the long lines.

Why Does It Take So Long to Get Through the Airport? 

Airport times for flying internationally may take longer in general. However, whether you are flying domestically or internationally, it is important to consider any factors that may delay your airport navigation. Common wait points include:

  • Finding the right departure terminal and the right airline terminal

  • Parking your car and getting from the parking lot to the terminal

  • Checking in and printing your boarding pass 

  • Checking your bags 

  • Getting to the appropriate security checkpoint for your gate

  • Going through security (TSA)

  • Declaring items and answering border security questions if you are flying internationally 

  • Finding your gate 

  • Boarding the plane 

How Much Time Does It Take to Get Through Airport Security?

Often, going through airport security can be the longest step in getting through the airport. Domestic TSA checkpoints are typically quicker and less extensive than International TSA checkpoints, averaging 20 minutes to 45 minutes. If you are flying internationally, it may take up to an hour and a half to go through security. The times are dependent on how many people are going through security at the same time, how many TSA agents are on the floor, and how many steps you must go through. For international flights, there are typically more people

going through security at any given time and there are more steps involved in the process. 

Why Is There So Much Airport Security?

At a typical, domestic flight security checkpoint, you will need to show your passport and boarding pass. Then, you will reach a conveyor belt where you will need to place any carry-on baggage, laptops and mobile devices, and removable metal pieces from your body such as jewelry, watches, belts, and shoes. Any dangerous or potentially dangerous items will be confiscated when your items are scanned. You will also need to pass through a scanner that will make sure you are not carrying any dangerous or potentially dangerous items on your body. If you cannot go through the scanner or something is suspicious about your scan, you may be selected for an in-person check. A TSA agent may also select you randomly for a pat-down screening. 

How to Get Through the Airport and Airport Security Faster 

If you need to get through the airport in a short time frame, there are many ways you can speed up the airport and airport security processes. A few of the most popular ways include:

  • Know the Airport Layout: Most airports have an online terminal map available. If you look at it before arriving at the airport, you may note where the parking or drop-off is relative to the appropriate terminal, if you can take a shuttle bus between terminals, and where your gate will be. This will save time and frustration once you are at the airport. 
  • Understand the Rules: One of the reasons airport securities can take so long is that people bring unauthorized items in their carry-on baggage or dress inappropriately to go through security. Look through TSA guidelines and your security checkpoint experience will be a breeze. 
  • Know Your Rights: If you encounter any problems through security, it may take extra time to get to your gate. In these cases, it is important to know your rights
  • Check-In Online: Many airlines allow you to check in online before your flight. Once at the airport, you can also use self-serve kiosks to print your boarding passes. 
  • Apply for Elite Status: Some airlines offer elite statuses that allow you to go through an expedited security checkpoint line. The option may not be available in all airports. 
  • Sign Up for TSA PreCheck: TSA PreCheck (or Global Entry including TSA PreCheck) allows you to get through security lines faster, leave your shoes and belts on, and leave your electronics and liquids in your bags. If you opt for Global Entry, you will also reduce your time spent in customs and border protection once you have arrived at your destination.
  • Check Airport Wait Times: Large airports list the current wait times for getting through security. If you are flying from a major airport, you may be able to check these times online.

  • Ask for Help: If you have mobility problems, are pregnant, are disabled, or need any extra assistance for getting through the airport, be sure to book special assistance services and passenger support ahead of time. When you arrive at the airport, you can rest assured that an agent will help you.