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TSA delays getting worse at airports


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We tried that at a couple of busy airports (Denver and LAX) and were told we were not allowed to check our luggage until 3 hours before. You can't win.

 

My experience has been 4 hours. At least with Southwest.

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We always get to the airport early just in case there is a line at security, but you can only be so early. We tried to check our bags at FLL after a cruise and were there just over three hours before flight time. They refused to take our bags and check us in. The agents said they can only take bags three hours or less before flight time. I wish I could remember which airline it was as we've flown out of FLL numerous times on different airlines and I can't remember which time we were refused. We had to stand to the side until we were within the three hour limit. I would hope that they've changed that rule if the lines are becoming so long that it takes three hours to get through security not at FLL in particular, but at other larger airports).

 

It's Southwest.

We fly Delta and I had heard the 3 hour in advance warning and asked the Delta agent about it and she said it did NOT apply to them. I think it just needs to be same day for Delta.

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Are flights from the US to Canada truly considered "international" for these purposes?

 

The airport limo service we've hired suggested we arrive at Logan two hours before our flight from Boston to Vancouver. If there is no traffic from our house to Boston (haha), then we will arrive 2h 45min before our flight. That leaves us only 45min for traffic if we want the full two hours to check in.

 

I'm starting to think we should leave at least 30 minutes earlier.

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We just flew round trip from San Francisco to New Orleans. There were long security lines on both ends. We used pre-check in SFO and it was maybe 15 minutes. In New Orleans, the pre-check lane was closed. We could still leave on our shoes but had to take the laptop out of the bag. It took longer than SFO but probably only 45 minutes. That's not what I paid for when I signed up for Pre-check. Usually we love pre-check, it's a major time saver.

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Recommendation for all travelers: Get the TSA Precheck pass. If they still offer the GOES (works going through U.S. customs from some countries) get that. It will be one of the best $100 you'll ever spend.

 

 

Yeah, except when the airport decides to CLOSE that line which they did 2 Fridays in a row. We have not bought the pass as we do not feel it is worth it ( we are lucky and get TSA pre-checked quite a bit especially with SW) But 2 weeks in a row we got TSA pre-checked with Southwest and both weeks our airport closed the TSA precheck line, so lot of good it did us. Lady behind us did pay for the pass and she was NOT happy!!! She was like "why waste the money to buy the pass when they close the TSA Precheck line?"

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We always get to the airport early just in case there is a line at security, but you can only be so early. We tried to check our bags at FLL after a cruise and were there just over three hours before flight time. They refused to take our bags and check us in. The agents said they can only take bags three hours or less before flight time. I wish I could remember which airline it was as we've flown out of FLL numerous times on different airlines and I can't remember which time we were refused. We had to stand to the side until we were within the three hour limit. I would hope that they've changed that rule if the lines are becoming so long that it takes three hours to get through security not at FLL in particular, but at other larger airports).

 

At FLL, you can check your luggage in earlier on the lower level..at least for SW Air.,..and we usually already have our boarding passes printed out 24 hrs ahead.,..this has been a big improvement from when we had to sit around in a small waiting area with little food and too many people with luggage....waiting for the 3 hr mark

 

Hope they still do this..,

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My experience has been 4 hours. At least with Southwest.

 

This was with Southwest. We were told it is not up to the airline, but the airport security and TSA. So given your information, this leads me to believe that there is no set rules, procedures, etc. It seems to be all haphazard.

Edited by Lazz
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Global entry is really helpful. Often, in certain airports 2-3 out of 20 per more immigration stations have actual immigration officers. I don't know why they build so many stations if they never staff them.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums mobile app

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I've always used the old guidelines of 1 hour for domestic and 90 minutes for international.

 

I have been flying quite a bit since February. I have not encountered any lines like people have described. And this has included airports like Boston, Phoenix, and Fort Lauderdale. I did not expect any lines at the smaller airports and there were no lines at all. I guess I have been lucky.

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This was with Southwest. We were told it is not up to the airline, but the airport security and TSA. So given your information, this leads me to believe that there is no set rules, procedures, etc. It seems to be all haphazard.

 

I called Southwest today to verify and I was told 4 hours. If you're told differently, then it means someone doesn't know the rules or, IMO, is trying to work a bit less.

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So I am really clued out to all these cards.

We live in Canada, so is NEXUS the one we want. ?

Just looked up application on line and it takes up to 5 months and the fee is in US dollars.

 

If you're a Canadian citizen or permanent resident you can apply for nexus. The application done through the US CBP website global online enrollment system (GOES*). The fee for Nexus is $50 - American currency if you submit everything via the website or Canadian if you mail your application. Once conditionally approved you will need to schedule an interview where you have a conversation with both the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP). The interviews are typically formalities as they've already screened your application and know everything that is available about you. They also take your fingerprints and iris scan at this time.

 

As a nexus member you have access to Global Entry machines at many airports including all preclearance locations in Canada. Which allows for speed entrance j to the United States. Upon your return to Canada you have access to the Nexus machines which perform a similar function to the GE machines.

 

Another benefit is being enrolled in Precheck, which if you're flying on a member airline you get expedited security screening (in theory, if not always in practice). However you should be aware that the only Canadian airlines enrolled in Precheck are Air Canada and Westjet. So if you're flying a charter, you're SOL.

 

Nexus is well worth the $50.

 

 

*GOES is the name of the enrollment system, and not a short form of global entry.

Edited by iMedic
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If you're a Canadian citizen or permanent resident you can apply for nexus. The application done through the US CBP website global online enrollment system (GOES*). The fee for Nexus is $50 - American currency if you submit everything via the website or Canadian if you mail your application. Once conditionally approved you will need to schedule an interview where you have a conversation with both the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP). The interviews are typically formalities as they've already screened your application and know everything that is available about you. They also take your fingerprints and iris scan at this time.

 

As a nexus member you have access to Global Entry machines at many airports including all preclearance locations in Canada. Which allows for speed entrance j to the United States. Upon your return to Canada you have access to the Nexus machines which perform a similar function to the GE machines.

 

Another benefit is being enrolled in Precheck, which if you're flying on a member airline you get expedited security screening (in theory, if not always in practice). However you should be aware that the only Canadian airlines enrolled in Precheck are Air Canada and Westjet. So if you're flying a charter, you're SOL.

 

Nexus is well worth the $50.

 

 

*GOES is the name of the enrollment system, and not a short form of global entry.

 

Thank you so much for this information. Is it really 5 months to get the card ?????

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I hear that even those pre-check lines are long.

 

If they are I'm not seeing it. I've cleared security 10 times at 8 different airports in the last month and the longest I've waited in the Pre line has still been less than 5 mins. This includes some of the well reported crappy airports at busy times (ORD and MCO). On more than one occasion I have been the only person in the Pre check line.

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It is interesting to calculate at what point it is better to drive than fly with the current delays that flying has.

 

Consider 2 cases. Both involve a trip from your home to a destination 800 miles away. I am going to also assume that you do not live in a crowded eastern area where driving speeds are limited but somewhere in the West where you can cruise at 75 to 80 MPH.

 

Option 1 - drive. Assuming that you average 75 MPH (we have typically averaged 72 MPH when we drive from Las Vegas to Denver), it would take 11.4 hours to drive the 800 miles.

 

Option 2 - flying.

 

Assume that it takes 2 hours to drive from your home to the airport, park the car and get to the terminal - 2 hours

Stand in line at the ticket counter to check in - 0.75 hours

TSA lines - 2 hours conservatively given current delays

Arrive at airplane gate, wait until boarding and wait until take off - 0.75 hours

Flight time from push back to arrival - 2 hours

Walk to baggage pickup - 0.25 hours

Wait for luggage - 0.5 hours

Wait for hotel pickup and drive to hotel - 0.3 hours

 

Total portal to portal flying time - 8.85 hours

 

You can argue with my exact figures but the bottom line is that for any trip under 1000 miles, it hardly pays to drive given the current problems with the airline industry.

 

Think about it.

 

DON

 

I made a typing error on this post and one CC member was kind enough to point it out. The last sentence should have said that it hardly pays to fly.

 

Sorry for the mistake.

 

DON

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Ok,

so I've read through all the post since my original question.

If I understand correctly, US Airports have now introduced a higher level of security which entails hand baggage going through scanners and laptops, kindles etc., removed from bags along with permissible liquids. Humans have to remove belts, coats, shoes and any metal objects and place them in a plastic tray which also goes through the scanner. You then pass through a body scanner, collect your belongings and move on.

If I have got this right, what is the problem? we have had this type of security for years and although at busy times it can take a little longer, we still don't ever consider checking in more than two hours before the flight, maybe a bit longer for transatlantic/long haul.

Is this really a case of American beauracracy, doing what it does best..........simply being totally inefficient!........sorry, no offence meant, but as I said in my original post, us Brits do find your immigration process just a little "quaint".

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GOES (works going through U.S. customs from some countries) get that.

 

Coming in from certain countries, e.g. Great Britain, same thing.

 

Once you get your card, put it on all your plane tickets. There is usually a spot for it. If not call the airline and have them put it on file. Then it prints right on your boarding pass.

 

Just to clarify a few things-

To my knowledge, it does not matter what country you're coming in from. If you have Global Entry (GOES), you can use the Global Entry kiosks upon arrival.

 

Second, you don't have to enter it on every individual ticket if you simply enter your GE number in your airline profile (you can do this online, you shouldn't have to call); it will automatically be attached to any ticket you purchase with that airline if you are logged in to the airline with your frequent flyer number when you purchase a ticket.

 

The GOES Pass also works domestically..

 

Somewhat inaccurate. GOES, or Global Entry, is for immigration and customs, and you don't have to clear either on domestic flights. Now, if you have GE you are also eligible for TSA Precheck, which is a separate program that allows for the expedited security screening you mentioned. As TSA is a US-government program, you can ONLY find PreCheck lines at domestic (US) airports. Keep in mind the PreCheck line isn't always open, and even when you are PreCheck-eligible you may sometimes be randomly chosen to go through full security screening anyway.

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the line for pre-check... is always comprised of experienced travelers

 

LOL, if only that was true. Pax continue to randomly be assigned to PreCheck who have NO CLUE what they can leave on their person or in their bags. I was behind a couple of ladies recently who were in this situation. They were taking everything out and I tried to politely explain that they could leave it all in their bags but they just could not comprehend that. They were even taking their cell phones out and putting them separately in a bin, which isn't necessary even in the regular security line (they can stay in your purse.)

 

 

Consider 2 cases. Both involve a trip from your home to a destination 800 miles away.

 

Option 1 - drive. Assuming that you average 75 MPH (we have typically averaged 72 MPH when we drive from Las Vegas to Denver), it would take 11.4 hours to drive the 800 miles.

 

Option 2 - flying.

 

Assume that it takes 2 hours to drive from your home to the airport, park the car and get to the terminal - 2 hours

Stand in line at the ticket counter to check in - 0.75 hours

TSA lines - 2 hours conservatively given current delays

Arrive at airplane gate, wait until boarding and wait until take off - 0.75 hours

Flight time from push back to arrival - 2 hours

Walk to baggage pickup - 0.25 hours

Wait for luggage - 0.5 hours

Wait for hotel pickup and drive to hotel - 0.3 hours

 

Total portal to portal flying time - 8.85 hours

 

You can argue with my exact figures

 

Yep, you've made some huge generalizations. I live 35 min from the airport (used to live just 20 min away). I can check in online if I don't check a bag. I have PreCheck which usually means 5 min. or less at my home airport security line though I realize and allow for more, and I cannot remember that last time it took ANOTHER 30 min, AFTER deplaning and arriving at baggage claim, to get my checked bag. I also usually find that the cab line or Uber is faster than a hotel shuttle. I realize my scenario is a best case scenario vs. your apparently worst case scenario, but for many, many people, flying would make much more sense than driving for an 800 mile trip.;)

 

What you failed to allow for however, was a connecting flight. THAT is what can truly add to travel time when flying, and connecting flights are a reality for anyone who doesn't generally A)live in a large/hub city and B) is also traveling to another large/hub city.

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So can someone please tell me what TSA stands for

 

So what's the problem in the USA? Getting out of the USA never used to be a problem, apart from your rather, how shall I put this delicately, somewhat Dickensian procedures. So what's happened to cause such lengthy hold ups?

 

TSA = Transportation Security Administration.

However, many frequent flyers have renamed it either "Thousands Standing Around" or "Tub Sorting Authority." ;)

 

As for getting out of the country, I've stood in some horrific security lines in the UK and Europe, so not sure why you believe US security procedures are so much worse than elsewhere.

 

As for why it now takes longer, the TSA is losing employees faster than it can hire new ones, and we are entering the summer travel season when more people are flying. All of that frequently = longer security lines

 

I just checked the Atlanta airport website and it suggests arriving 3 hours prior to departure...in January when I flew it was 1 hour. However, the wait time listed is 15 minutes for security screening. Why would a person need to arrive 3 hours in advance for a 15 minute line? Just curious.

 

Because they can't accurately predict from day to day how early or how late people will actually arrive, which means they can't accurately predict if or when you might encounter a back-up at security. It also has to do with the fact that the TSA is apparently unable to adequately staff security lines, particularly at peak times. Sometimes the line will be 15 minutes, but sometimes it will be much longer. So they advise you based on the worst case scenario. Would you rather they said "heck, sometimes it's only 15 min so we'll just tell people they only need to arrive 15 min early?" And then you arrive and find a 2 hour wait? Didn't think so. ;)

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It's Southwest.

We fly Delta and I had heard the 3 hour in advance warning and asked the Delta agent about it and she said it did NOT apply to them. I think it just needs to be same day for Delta.

 

You were replying to a post regarding FLL and the 3 hour bag check limit absolutely DOES apply to Delta there. In fact, DL usually has an employee floating around the check in area asking people what time their flight is BEFORE they get in line to check in. If the flight is more than 3 hours away, the pax is turned away and cannot get in line. Delta has a lot of flights in and out of FLL, and in fact accounts for nearly all the flights in/out of Terminal 2 at FLL. With so many cruise pax using FLL, Delta simply cannot handle bags any earlier. Think of all the pax who get off the ship in the morning but don't fly out to mid to later afternoon or evening... that's a LOT of bags that DL would simply have to find a place to store until later. Not practical.

Perhaps at some other airports DL is happy to accept your bags any time the same day, but the 3 hour rules is in effect for them at FLL.

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You were replying to a post regarding FLL and the 3 hour bag check limit absolutely DOES apply to Delta there. In fact, DL usually has an employee floating around the check in area asking people what time their flight is BEFORE they get in line to check in. If the flight is more than 3 hours away, the pax is turned away and cannot get in line. Delta has a lot of flights in and out of FLL, and in fact accounts for nearly all the flights in/out of Terminal 2 at FLL. With so many cruise pax using FLL, Delta simply cannot handle bags any earlier. Think of all the pax who get off the ship in the morning but don't fly out to mid to later afternoon or evening... that's a LOT of bags that DL would simply have to find a place to store until later. Not practical.

Perhaps at some other airports DL is happy to accept your bags any time the same day, but the 3 hour rules is in effect for them at FLL.

 

 

 

 

This was not our experience.

I was inquiring because we had a 5:00 flight out after a cruise.

We arrived at the airport (FLL) between 10 and 11 (the latest we could get off the ship) and checked our bags and spent the rest of the day in a lounge at the airport.

Edited by chamima
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Hopefully the airlines will allow for people to check bags a bit earlier because of the TSA delays. Otherwise, until TSA gets their act together, we're going to be hearing a lot about people just barely missing their flights.

 

As I mentioned earlier, I verified with Southwest about how early we can check bags. I urge everyone to do the same with whatever airline the use.

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I called Southwest today to verify and I was told 4 hours. If you're told differently, then it means someone doesn't know the rules or, IMO, is trying to work a bit less.

 

In Denver, they were announcing the baggage check in restrictions over the terminal PA system.

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I flew home via JFK last Wednesday. It took an hour to get to my gate from the time I left the plane. The biggest wait was clearing Customs and Immigration as it appears multiple international flights landed together, and that was followed up by a ridiculously slow PreCheck line. Once they figured out that they needed to get a second agent looking at boarding passes it started to move.

 

I've never paid for PreCheck - just rely on the random goodwill of the airline to stick me there. There have been flights where my teen son got PreCheck and I did not (so guess who got to carry the laptop bag...). And there have been flights where that line was closed so it wasn't worthwhile. I was at RDU 4 hours in advance for my outbound flight due to a ride scheduling conflict and breezed through PreCheck and then enjoyed a nice brunch pre-flight.

 

You can meet interesting people in the lines. And as long as you can keep a good humor, it is annoying but not tragic. This was the first time I've used the kiosk/receipt versus filling out the immigration form on the plane, and it felt like it made the process longer - as we had a line for the kiosk and then a line for the ICE official.

 

All of this said, there are dozens of airports I would choose before choosing to fly through JFK again.

 

I do encourage arriving as early as possible, if only to cut down on the pre-screening stress. The woman in line behind me in Rome was carping on the line and I considered asking why she didn't arrive an hour earlier (as her flight was an hour earlier than my flight...). She was not happy at line number 2 - though talked her way into using the first class line versus standing with the rest of us.

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Thank you so much for this information. Is it really 5 months to get the card ?????

 

It might take up to that long but it depends on how quickly you can arrange the interview once the application is approved. For me the approval process took at least a couple of months but then it took another couple of months for me to arrange the interview. I don't live in a major center so i had to try and arrange the interview when i was going to be in the Vancouver area. At that time it was at least 3 months waiting time to arrange an interview and there are 2 centers. I ended up having to drive to Bellingham and doing the interview there. It was only a one month wait for an appointment there but i arranged it for the next time i was in Vancouver. If i had waited to do the interview in Vancouver i would have had to make a special trip to Vancouver whereas by using Bellingham i could arrange it for a trip that was already planned.

 

It is well worth the time and money to get the Nexus card as you can use the Nexus security lines even when flying domestically so you get to bypass the long security lines.

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