Denver, CO

3 tips for dealing with Spring Break crowds at DIA

Brittany Anas
Denver International Airport will be busy this weekend with Spring Breakers.Photo byDenver International Airport

By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) If you’re traveling through the Denver International Airport in the next week, be braced for extra Spring Break crowds. Not only are Colorado residents heading out for vacation, but there’s an influx of inbound travelers who are coming to enjoy the final weeks of skiing.

Airport officials expect more than 600,000 passengers to travel through TSA checkpoints between March 16 and 25. The busiest travel days are expected to happen this weekend, with 70,000 passengers per day passing through security, according to DEN officials.

Flight schedules indicate that TSA wait times between 8-9 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. during the Spring Break rush will be busier than usual.

Here’s three tips to deal with airport crowds this month:

1. Arrive at the airport early

Airport officials recommend being at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight boards (not departs). Flight boarding times are usually about 45 minutes before departure times. So, you should plan to get to the airport about three hours prior to your flight to allow for enough time to get checked in and get through security.

2. Check real-time TSA wait times

Passengers can visit to see security wait times and which lanes are moving quickly.

DIA has three TSA security areas, and which one you use depends on the time of day you’re traveling and whether you have TSA PreCheck for expedited screening. A good rule of thumb: If you have TSA PreCheck, you’ll want to use the North Security Checkpoint.

South Security is open 24/7 and is the primary checkpoint for standard screening. Limited TSA PreCheck lanes are open from 4 a.m. to 8 pm. There is also a CLEAR lane.

North Security is open from 4 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. It’s primarily for TSA PreCheck passengers and CLEAR customers who have PreCheck, too. There are limited numbers of standard screening lanes at this checkpoint.

A-Bridge Security Checkpoint is open from 4:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. The checkpoint only offers standard screening; TSA PreCheck isn’t available here. Passengers departing from A-gates can walk to their gates from this checkpoint instead of taking the tram.

3. Try Remote Bag Drop

Checking a bag? If you’re traveling domestically, you have a couple of options for dropping your luggage off before entering the airport. This can save you time at the airport, where long lines can form at the carrier's check-in counters.

DEN has free bag drops at 75th Avenue near the Pikes Peak Shuttle Lot and at the transit center near the RTD A-Line (beneath the Westin hotel).

Bag drop is a free service offered by DEN and is available daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for domestic flights on United, Southwest, Delta, American, Alaska, and Spirit. Flights to international destinations are not eligible for the bag-check service.

Passengers using bag drop must be checked in and have dropped off their bags at least 90 minutes before their flight. Airline bag fees are paid at the bag drop kiosk. Passengers with lap infants must visit the ticket counter for the child’s boarding pass.

Learn more about the bag drop program here.

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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.

Westminster, CO

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