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The Best and Worst Security Wait Times at Major U.S. Airports

Upgraded Points recently offered up its newest informative study that ranks TSA security wait times across the nation from longest to shortest. Drawing directly on data compiled from the TSA, Upgraded Points explored and ranked 10 of the 25 busiest U.S. airports for wait times during specific times and days of the week. The results were then compiled, analyzed and placed in an interactive digital map. Both the shortest and longest wait times were found to be non-localized, and are spread out over multiple major airports across the country.

Analysis Methodology

The study looked at the 25 busiest airports in the U.S., based on 2018 passenger boarding information. The results are compiled from data representing security wait times for specific hours at all airports, from which the day and overall averages were calculated.

To rate the best and worst times for TSA security at each airport, Upgraded Points searched through every day of the week to find the maximum and minimum average wait times. The overall study considered all hours traveled, but only offered times within a single time period — from 4 p.m. through 11 p.m. — in its recommendations for best times to travel. This window was deemed the most realistic time period to suit the largest number of travelers, and also represents the time period used for the majority of flight departures.

Airport Security Wait Times: Longest and Shortest

Longest — Newark Liberty International (EWR): Located in New Jersey, EWR ranked number one on the list of longest security wait times. With an average security delay of 23.1 minutes, EWR is definitely an airport that requires a bit of patience. With some strategic planning however, it is possible to travel through EWR with a reduced risk of inconvenience. The best time to travel EWR is on a Friday, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., with an average wait time of around 15 minutes. The absolute worst time to travel through EWR is on a Monday, between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. Those unfortunate enough to hit the security line at that time could be waiting up to an hour.

Shortest — Salt Lake City International (SLC): Utah’s capital can boast the quickest security-line wait times in the nation, with an average of 9.1 minutes. For those interested in visiting some of the nation’s state parks, booking a trip through SLC should be relatively quick and convenient. And although it already offers incredibly short wait times on average, the best time to join the security line at SLC is on a Wednesday, between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., with an average wait time of two minutes. The worst time is on a Sunday, from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m., with an average wait time at around 26 minutes.

Other noted airports that made the best and worst lists for this study include Boston Logan, Washington Dulles International, Miami International and George Bush Intercontinental. For a complete list of the airlines reported in the study, as well as detailed graphics and access to the interactive map, please visit HERE.

The 5 Airports with the Best Average TSA Security Wait Times

Based on our analysis, these are the top 5 airports in the U.S. with the best security wait times.

1. Salt Lake City International (SLC)

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has an average security wait time of 9.1 minutes, the shortest wait time on the list by far. So, if you ever wanted to visit some national parks, now you have your excuse.

If you’re booking a trip that goes through SLC, the best time to go through security at that airport is Wednesday from 6 – 7 p.m., which had an average wait time of 2 minutes. The worst time would be Sunday from 11 p.m. – 12 a.m., which would have you waiting in security lines for about 26 minutes.

2. Washington Dulles International (IAD)

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), one of the largest airports in the U.S. by surface area, has one of the shortest average security wait times of 10.5 minutes. Clearly, they’re doing something right!

Of course, it all depends on when you go through the airport. Security lines run the quickest on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 – 11 p.m. at an average of about 1 minute. On Fridays from 9 – 10 a.m., however, you’ll wait for about 28 minutes in the security line. But hey, even people in the nation’s capital need to go on weekend vacations!

3. Boston Logan International (BOS)

The third best airport with the fastest security wait time is Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), at an average of about 10.6 minutes. It is only slightly slower than number 2 on our list, Washington Dulles International Airport.

The best time to go through security at Logan Airport is Thursdays at 10 – 11 p.m., where you’ll only wait around 3 minutes, whereas the worst time is Friday at 5 – 6 p.m., where you’ll wait a whooping 45 minutes.

4. Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP)

Next up on our list is Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), which is a joint civil-military international airport. This airport has a modest average wait time in TSA security lines of about 13 minutes.

If you’re heading through MSP, try to book your flight so that you can head through security from 8 – 9 p.m. on a Saturday, and you’ll most likely wait only a minute. If your flight has you departing near 2 -3 p.m. on Monday, you have a bit worse luck -the security line will be around 43 minutes long.

5. Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) / Detroit Metropolitan (DTW)

Finally, our fifth spot is a tie between two airports -but the more the merrier when it comes to quick-moving lines, right? Both Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) have average wait times of 13.2 minutes in their security lines.

The best time to head through CLT’s security lines would be Wednesday from 4 – 5 a.m. (2 minute wait time), and the worst time would be Thursday from 5 – 6 p.m. (29 minute wait time). And the best time to head through DTW’s security would be Tuesday and Thursday from 10 – 11 p.m. (1 minute wait time), while the worst time would be Sunday from 5 – 6 a.m. (33 minute wait time).

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