The partial government shutdown has forced Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to work without pay, leading to significant callouts, terminal closings and longer screening lines at airports across the country. Travelers should follow these tips to successfully navigate airport security checkpoints amid the shutdown.
Passengers are always advised to arrive at the airport two to three hours ahead of their scheduled departure depending on whether they're flying domestically or internationally. It's never been more imperative that travelers heed that advice.
Check Wait Times in Advance
It's always wise to know before you go. Just as you check your flight status before arriving at the airport, look at the wait times for security. Some airports will post estimated wait times on their website as well as helpful updates via Twitter. However, travelers shouldn't take estimates as gospel as they are just that, estimates, and subject to change without notice.
Download the MyTSA App
The MyTSA App is also an excellent resource as it allows users to check the delay information and current weather conditions at their specific airport as well as see how busy their airport is likely to be on their travel date based on historical data. Those are just some of the helpful features.
Pack neatly to ensure your bags get through the checkpoint as quickly as you do. Try to keep your clothes toward the bottom with your travel-size toiletries and electronic devices on top for easy inspection.
Sure, traveling can be stressful and an unexpectedly long screening line can compound that frustration. Nonetheless, it's important to put yourself in a TSA agent's shoes. They're not only unpaid but likely working extra hours amid the shutdown, so be kind, respectful and thankful. You can vent about the long lines afterward while you're waiting at the gate.
Leave Prohibited Items at Home
This is a good idea regardless of the situation as packing a banned item could lead to headaches for not only yourself but your fellow travelers who will be forced to wait even longer. Click here to learn what you can and can't bring.
Standing in the security line is never the time to zone out, especially as you get closer to the front. Stay alert so you can get everything out of your pockets, remove your shoes and be completely ready when it's your turn.
Enroll in TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck is a no-brainer for travelers even long after the partial government shutdown is over. A five-year membership will only cost you $85 and make getting through screening faster and less demanding. According to TSA, 93 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes in November 2018.