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US airports with the longest and shortest wait times

US airports with the longest and shortest wait times

Traveling can be a very stressful experience, made even worse if you turn the corner and see a huge security line snaking through the airport terminal.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does an important job keeping us all safe, but nobody likes waiting in line when they’re in a rush.

At which airports are you likely to face the longest waits? And which will allow you to breeze through hassle-free?

Industry experts analyzed data from the TSA, as well as U.S. Customs & Border Protection, to find out the airports with the longest and shortest wait times.

The U.S. Airports with the Longest Wait Times

RankAirport NameSecurity Wait TimePassport Control Wait Time Combined Wait Time 
1Miami International 24:5422:0346:57
2Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International 18:1828:2346:41
3San Francisco International 27:4818:0845:56
4John F. Kennedy International 25:0019:5444:54
5O’Hare International 19:1820:0839:26
6St. Louis Lambert International 28:4810:2939:17
7Palm Beach International 36:1802:2438:42
8Oakland International 18:3618:4637:22
9Fresno Yosemite International 19:1817:5737:15
10San Diego International 19:1816:0435:22

Taking into account the average wait times for both security checks and passport control, its Miami International where travelers face the longest waits. Miami is the largest gateway from the US to Latin America and the Caribbean and it’s one of the nation’s major airline hubs, which may explain why it can take so long to get through!

Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport comes in second just 16 seconds quicker than Miami International. While Fort Lauderdale handles fewer international flights than neighboring Miami, it’s still clearly a busy airport, with over 700 daily flights.

In third place is San Francisco International. San Francisco is California’s second busiest airport and is also one of the busiest in the country, serving as a major gateway to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The U.S. Airports with the Shortest Wait Times

RankAirport NameSecurity Wait TimePassport Control Wait Time Combined Wait Time 
1Raleigh–Durham International 10:0606:0316:09
2Baltimore/Washington International 10:1209:0219:14
3Charlotte Douglas International 09:5409:2119:15
4Newark Liberty International 05:1814:2819:46
5Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International 08:1811:3219:50
6Detroit Metropolitan 09:0011:2420:24
7Phoenix Sky Harbor International 16:4805:4622:34
8San Antonio International 08:1814:1822:36
9Austin–Bergstrom International 08:1814:4823:06
10Sacramento International Airport08:1815:5124:09

The airport with the shortest wait times is Raleigh–Durham International. Here you have to wait around 10 minutes for security checks and 6 minutes for passport control. The airport is far less busy than other major airports in the US, hence the shorter wait times. 

Ranking in second place is Baltimore/Washington International. The average wait times for this airport total just over 19 minutes. Charlotte Douglas airport follows closely behind with wait times of 19:15 minutes. Despite its low wait times, Charlotte is still a busy airport, with 50 million passengers a year.

Further Study Insights: 

  • The airport with the longest average security wait time is Palm Beach International (36:18 minutes), whilst the shortest average is at Newark Liberty International (05:18 minutes). 
  • The airport with the longest average passport control wait time is Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (28:23 minutes), whilst the shortest is Palm Beach International (02:24 minutes). 

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