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Airport Wait Times

Published by: Bounce26 March, 2022

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

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

We’ve 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.

Note that these times just refer to how long it takes to clear security checks and passport control, so bear in mind that that could take longer to collect your luggage or make your way through the terminal!

The US airports with the longest wait times

1. Miami International Airport

Average security wait time: 24 minutes, 54 seconds

Average passport control wait time: 22 minutes, 3 seconds

Combined: 46 minutes, 57 seconds

Taking into account the average wait times for both security checks and passport control, it’s Miami International where travelers face the longest waits.

Miami is the largest gateway from the US to Latin America and the Caribbean and one of the nation’s major airline hubs, which may explain why it can take so long to get through.


2. Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport

Average security wait time: 18 minutes, 18 seconds

Average passport control wait time: 28 minutes, 23 seconds

Combined: 46 minutes, 41 seconds

Another airport serving the Miami area comes in second place, with the average combined wait time at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport 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.


3. San Francisco International Airport

Average security wait time: 27 minutes, 48 seconds

Average passport control wait time: 18 minutes, 08 seconds

Combined: 45 minutes, 56 seconds

The slowest airport on the West Coast is San Francisco International, with the average security and passport control wait times amounting to 45 minutes and 56 seconds in total.

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


The US airports with the shortest wait times

1. Raleigh–Durham International Airport

Average security wait time: 10 minutes, 6 seconds

Average passport control wait time: 6 minutes, 3 seconds

Combined: 16 minutes, 9 seconds

On the other hand, those flying through Raleigh–Durham International Airport only have to wait around six minutes for security checks and 16 minutes for passport control.

While still a busy airport for Raleigh and the surrounding Research Triangle region in North Carolina, the airport is far less busy than other major airports in the country, hence the lower wait times.


2. Baltimore/Washington International Airport

Average security wait time: 10 minutes, 12 seconds

Average passport control wait time: 9 minutes, 2 seconds

Combined: 19 minutes, 14 seconds

Baltimore/Washington International is a popular alternative airport for those looking to travel to the nation’s capital, and perhaps the shorter wait times are a factor in this, clocking in at around 13 minutes less than at Dulles airport in D.C.

As well as Baltimore and Washington, D.C., BWI is also popular with travelers to Richmond, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.


3. Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Average security wait time: 9 minutes, 54 seconds

Average passport control wait time: 9 minutes, 21 seconds

Combined: 19 minutes, 15 seconds

Another airport in the Carolinas completes the top three airports with the quickest wait times, with security and passport wait times standing at 19 minutes and 15 seconds combined at Charlotte Douglas.

Despite its low wait times, Charlotte is still a busy airport, with 50 million passengers a year.

The US airports with the longest security wait times

1 - Palm Beach International Airport

Average wait time: 36 minutes, 18 seconds.

2 - St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Average wait time: 28 minutes, 48 seconds.

3 - San Francisco International Airport

Average wait time: 27 minutes, 48 seconds

The airport with the longest weight at security is Palm Beach in Florida, where the average waiting time is a over 36 minutes. This is just under eight minutes slower than the average waiting time at St. Louis Lambert, where it takes just under 29 minutes. One minute faster than St. Louis is San Francisco International, which unfortunately it is still a very long wait. 

The US airports with the shortest security wait times

1 - Newark Liberty International Airport

Average wait time: 5 minutes, 18 seconds.

2 - Ontario International Airport 

Average wait time: 6 minutes, 18 seconds. 

3 - Four airports

Average wait time: 8 minutes, 18 seconds. 

At the other end of the spectrum is Newark Liberty International. At this New Jersey airport, passengers fly through security in just over five minutes. Exactly one minute longer is the average time it takes to get through security in Ontario International. Two minutes longer is the average time it takes at four airports: Sacramento, Austin Bergstrom, San Antonio, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. 

The US airports with the longest passport control wait times

1 - Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

Average wait time: 28 minutes, 23 seconds.

2 - Miami International Airport

Average wait time: 22 minutes, 3 seconds.

3 - O’Hare International Airport

Average wait time: 20 minutes, 8 seconds.

By far the longest time taken at passport control is endured by passengers traveling to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood. There is an agonizing average wait time of almost half an hour at this airport. Miami International has the longest overall wait time, but its passport control wait is only the second slowest. 


The US airports with the shortest passport control wait times

1 - Palm Beach International Airport

Average wait time: 2 minutes, 24 seconds.

2 - Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Average wait time: 5 minutes, 46 seconds.

3 - Raleigh-Durham International Airport

Average wait time: 6 minutes, 3 seconds.

Surprisingly, Palm beach has the quickest passport control time, despite having the slowest average wait in security. Average waits are less than two and a half minutes to get through passport control, this is over half of the time it takes at the next quickest airport. Phoenix Sky Harbor is that airport, where it takes just under six minutes to get through passport control, at Raleigh Durham it takes a smidge over six minutes.


Methodology

Security

Average wait times for security checks were sourced from TSA Wait Times.

Passport control

Average wait times for passport clearance were sourced from U.S. Customs & Border Protection’s Airport Wait Times data.

This data is published for each hour of the day and day of the week, so we took an average for each airport, looking at flights between March 8th, 2021, and March 7th, 2022.

All wait times are estimates and may not be indicative of your own experience.

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