We are hearing horror stories from travelers about the incredibly long security lines at the airports due to the longest government shutdown in history. With federal workers basically not being paid, you can bet that there are staffing issues at TSA checkpoints. As if these checkpoints aren't already short staffed enough...
This weekend I flew from Newark Liberty International Airport to Las Vegas. The night before my trip, I received the below text message from United warning me about potential long security lines. I usually depart my house two hours before my scheduled flight, but I didn't want to mess around this time after seeing some pictures on the news of some pretty bad experiences.
After arriving at the airport at 9:00am and checking my luggage, I hesitantly looked down the concourse to the steps that lead down to the main security checkpoint. Fully expecting to see lines backed up all the way to the top concourse level that I was standing on, I was confused to just see a few people meandering around.
As I descended the stairs, it was immediately apparent that there was nothing different about the crowds. In fact, it actually seemed even quieter than expected. You may be thinking "of course, it was the weekend!" and you'd be right, but this is Newark. At Newark that usually doesn't seem to matter. I have been at this security line every single week since October of this past fall at different days of the week and different times of day. While the length of the lines always vary, one thing always remains true: the lines are incredibly slow moving.
This morning, however, it was an absolute breeze. With my TSA Pre-Check, it took about 4 minutes for me to get completely through security. Not too shabby! Of course, this isn't the case at every airport. It's best to read up on how your local airport is being affected, but there is no need to freak out! The best way to check your airport lines is to use the MyTSA app. In this app, you are able to enter in any airport and check the wait times.
One very cool feature of the app is that you can enter in future dates and times of travel and it will let you know what the wait times are anticipated to be. Of course, with the shutdown things have been a little unpredictable, but this is a good place to start.
Another good place to look before you go is social media. Where is the first place angry travelers turn when they want to make their voices heard? Yep - social media. Check out Twitter and Instagram and search for hashtags specific to your area. You'll be sure to get the scoop in no time.
So, moral of the story, do allow yourself enough time in case you get caught up, but also read up a little before you go and everything will be just fine.
Here are some additional photos from this weekend: