Long Lines at Checkpoints Frustrate Travelers

Travelers waiting in the long security lines | Image by James R. Martin/Shutterstock

Airport congestion at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints has prompted a number of travelers to voice their frustration online about the growing issue.

Air travel can be a stressful time for many people, particularly around the holidays. This is why both governmental and private institutions offer flyers convenient ways to zoom through dedicated airport checkpoints.

However, as more people sign up for these premium services, travelers are actually getting less value for them – and in some cases, the premium lines are actually slower than the regular lines.

For example, at $189, travelers can avoid long lines at over 50 airports nationwide for 12 months. Travelers can also pick up a government-approved option TSA PreCheck membershipat less than half the price ($78/five years). Both of these services are meant to offer convenience to approved travelers who provide their personal and/or biometric data.

According to the discourse online, TSA PreCheck members are annoyed about having longer wait times than regular security, while Clear members are upset about paying more than TSA PreCheck members for an increasingly slower service.

“The @Clear line is 4x the PreCheck line. Each person takes longer at CLEAR than the @TSA document check,” said Gary Leff, an airline industry expert and the founder of the travel website View From the Wing, in a post shared on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Learn how this works people. CLEAR is a great tool but use it situationally.”

In general, no one wants to be the one stuck in the slow-moving line at an airport.

“It’s a judgment call when you get to the screening checkpoint,” Jeffrey Price, an airport management consultant and a professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science, told CNN. “Which line is longest and which is going to make me do the least amount?”

The TSA PreCheck program became a popular service for flyers following its 2011 debut. In 2016, 2 million flyers had enrolled in the program. By 2022, that number had jumped to over 18 million.

As more people have gotten Clear, the service has become more useful “a smaller percentage of the time,” Leff told CNN. “I use the PreCheck line since it currently takes longer to verify the identity of each passenger through the Clear lane.”

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