Denver, CO

Use these TSA tips to beat long summer security lines at DIA

Brittany Anas

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Ahead of the busy summer travel season, TSA officials say travelers should allow extra time to get checked in and through security.Denver International Airport

By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo) If you traveled during the past couple of years, you’ve probably been able to breeze through security lines with little to no wait times. But travel is back (some call 2022 the year of revenge travel), and so are the long security lines.

Ahead of the busy summer travel season, the Transportation Security Administration announced it expects passenger volumes will match and may occasionally exceed those of 2019 for the first time since the pandemic began.

Those traveling through Denver International Airport should especially heed the “arrive early” warnings since it was recently recognized as the third busiest airport globally. Despite the summer travel season not yet being underway, lines are already getting long.

AltitudeTV sports journalist Vic Lombardi recently Tweeted a photo showing lines at DIA that stretched outside of the airport, saying it’s the longest he’s ever seen and quipping you should arrive three days before flight departure.

DIA is also under construction, so it may take you a little extra time to navigate the airport. TSA Precheck passengers and TSA Precheck passengers with Clear should use the North Security Checkpoint. The South Security Checkpoint is for standard screening travelers.

The summer travel season, which begins in late May and extends beyond Labor Day weekend, covers three full months and four major holidays, including Juneteenth as the newest federal holiday. Juneteenth will be recognized on Monday, June 20, 2022. In addition to the extra holiday, TSA has been grappling with staffing shortages, which could affect security wait times during the busy summer travel season.

Here are five tips to help you get through security quicker (and hopefully save you from a pre-flight sprint to your gate):

  • Pack smart by starting with empty bags: The scenario: You kept a bottle of sunscreen in your backpack last summer for trips to Chatfield Reservoir. But you forget to take it out, and your bag gets flagged in the security line. Passengers who pack for travel with empty bags are less likely to bring prohibited items, according to TSA.
  • Arrive at the airport early: Factor summer traffic surges and construction delays into account when you’re headed to the airport. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get checked in, check your bags and go through a security screening. At the TSA checkpoint, have a valid ID card readily available and follow the liquids rule of 3.4 ounces or less, except hand sanitizer, which has a temporary 12-ounce limit in carry-on baggage.
  • Enroll in TSA PreCheck: By enrolling in TSA PreCheck, airline passengers can avoid removing shoes, belts, liquids, food, laptops and light jackets at the TSA checkpoint. Most new enrollees receive their known traveler number within five days, and membership lasts five years. In April, 94 percent of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than 5 minutes at the checkpoint. TSA also opened its first international PreCheck location in the Bahamas at the Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau.
  • Enroll in CLEAR: Those with CLEAR memberships get expedited through security. While TSA PreCheck expedites the physical screening process (and usually has shorter lines than standard screening) CLEAR speeds up the travel document check process through a biometric identification process. If you have status with an airline, you are likely eligible for a discount on CLEAR memberships. Having a combination of TSA PreCheck and CLEAR is the quickest way to get through security.
  • Check out DIA security wait times: You can check the security wait times on DIA’s website to see which lines are moving fast and the average wait times to get through security screenings. This can come in handy if you’re doing standard screening and deciding whether you should go through the South Security Checkpoint or the Bridge Security.

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Brittany is a journalist in the Denver metro area with more than two decades of writing and editing experience. She covers travel, restaurants and other lifestyle topics.

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