With the government temporarily shut down, many travelers are wondering how this will affect TSA lines at the airport.  CNN reports that nearly 800,000 government workers may be affected by this shut down and that includes some TSA employees. So, is there cause to worry that the airport you’re traveling out of will have long lines?  Susan’s Travel is here to help guide you in how to check TSA lines before you even leave home.

TSA line wait times can be unpredictable even on a good day and yes, there’s an app for that:

  1. The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) provides an app on wait times at airports. Simply download the TSA app from the app store on your mobile device.  Enter the airport you’re interested in checking out and you’ll be able to figure out when to leave for the airport so that you make your flight.
  2. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also has an app that you can download to check wait times for border crossings.
  3. Some airports also have their own security wait times on their website. Simply check their official website at least 4 hours before you leave home since airlines recommend a 2 hour check in time on a good day anyway.

The apps aren’t error proof, of course, but they will give you a good idea of how much time you should allow yourself to get through security.

If you haven’t booked your travel yet and are still considering the best possible times of day to travel, you can use the apps for that, too. For example, the “Plan for your Trip” feature gives you the ability to click the time and date you’re planning to travel and it will show you a graph with a breakdown of average wait times throughout that day of the week.  It’s a fairly useful feature.

Even if the TSA security lines are longer than normal, there are some ways around them. Some examples are:

  • TSA PreCheck  – you can apply for $85 and if approved, it gives you a five-year membership.  This program not only often gets you on a shorter line, but also typically allows other perks like avoiding removing your shoes and keeping more items, like liquids or electronics, inside your bag.
  • Global Entry – If you are a frequent international traveler, you can apply for $100 and if approved, receive a five year membership. If you apply and are approved for Global Entry, you do not need TSA PreCheck, as it’s included with Global Entry, also offering the possibility of shorter lines and other perks like avoiding removing your shoes and keeping more items, like liquids or electronics, inside your bag.  Plus, expedited clearance upon arrival to the U.S.
  • CLEAR – CLEAR is  a third-party membership which Instead of using traditional ID documents, uses biometrics – your eyes and fingertips – to confirm it’s really you, and allows you to move to the front of the line.  The program is $79 annually.

Any of these can be huge time-savers. Please see their sites for up-to-date information.

If you’re still wondering if the USA government shut down will affect your travel plans, please give us a call.  We are here to help you have a great time on your trip from beginning to end.

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