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Be Prepared To Wait At These 7 U.S. Airports This Winter

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If you're planning to travel this winter, be prepared to wait at the busiest U.S. airports.

Traveling during the holiday season can be stressful and chaotic. Due to a higher number of travelers, there are often long lines at airport security. You also have to factor in the time it takes to arrive and park at the airport and to check your luggage, if applicable.

According to a new study from Upgraded Points, the following airports in the U.S. have the longest wait times at security this winter.

People waiting in line for airport security

This study is based on TSA security wait times during the week of Thanksgiving through the Monday after Thanksgiving, and the week before Christmas through the day after New Year's Day.

Surprisingly, the average wait time for security — even at the “worst” airports — is not as high as you might expect. The average wait time for all airports in the U.S. is 6 minutes, while the longest wait time on this list is 12 minutes.

Busy Airport Security Line

However, this is because the study takes into account the average wait time over the course of an entire day. Wait times are likely to be significantly longer during a busy time when lots of flights are departing, or due to staffing shortages.

Without further ado, here are the airports with the longest waits this winter:

7. San Diego International Airport (SAN)

If you're traveling through San Diego, California this holiday season, you may want to allow extra time at the airport to avoid delays.

The wait times at this airport are about 8% higher than the national average.

San Diego, California, USA. Interior of food court area of San Diego International Airport. (1)

6. Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

One of three Florida airports on this list, Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport is another place where you may experience long waits at TSA security checkpoints.

This rapidly growing airport doesn't have enough capacity to handle the high volume of passengers passing through it, leading to longer wait times.

Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport Building Exterior

5. Denver International Airport (DEN)

Another airport with long security wait times this holiday season is Denver International Airport. If you're flying out of this airport, you can expect wait times of over 21% higher than the national average.

One way to avoid long waits at TSA security checkpoints is by applying for TSA PreCheck before you travel. This allows you to skip the regular security line and join an expedited queue.

DENVER, CO -10 APR 2021- Interior view of the Jeppesen Terminal with white tent roof at Denver International Airport, or DIA (DEN).

4. Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando, Florida is another destination where travelers may experience higher-than-average wait times.

During the holiday season, this popular destination in the Sunshine State can have extremely long waits to get through security.

Sign at Orlando International Airport

3. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

One of New York City's two main airports, JFK has seen a whole slew of changes this year that have made traveling more of a hassle.

Lack of parking, lack of AirTrain service, and long walks to the terminal from Uber dropoff points are just a few ways that traveling from JFK can be difficult.

The airport also has some of the longest security wait times in the country, meaning you'll want to arrive with plenty of time to spare before your flight.

JFK airport terminal

2. Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Another airport in the New York metro area with long wait times is Newark. This New Jersey airport can be a chaotic place to travel during the holiday season.

It has even longer wait times than JFK, so you'll definitely want to arrive early to avoid delays. Wait times at this airport are 25% longer than the national average.

Sign at Newark Liberty Airport

1. Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)

Travelers departing from Jacksonville, Florida this holiday season should prepare for the longest security wait times of any airport in the United States.

This airport is on the small side and doesn't have enough capacity for security to handle the large volume of travelers, leading to longer wait times.

Interestingly, this airport is also at the top of the list of airports with the worst passenger experience in the United States.

JAX Airport window art

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