Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport have the two longest wait times for security and passport control among the nation’s largest airports, according to a survey examining data from the Transportation Security Administration and US Customs and Border Protection over the past year.
At the MIA, which ranked #1 for longest wait times, passengers had to wait an average of 46:57 minutes – 24.54 minutes to pass through security and an additional 22:03 minutes for screening passports, according to research by Bounce, a luggage storage service. The study looked at TSA and Customs data from 39 airports between March 8, 2021 and March 7, 2022.
In Fort Lauderdale, ranked No. 2, passengers had to wait an average of 46:41 minutes – 6:18 p.m. for security and another 28:23 minutes for passport control.
Other airports with long wait times were #3 San Francisco (45:56 minutes), #4 John F. Kennedy (44:54 minutes) and #5 O’Hare International in Chicago (39:26 minutes), the poll found.
Not enough TSA, customs staff
A spokesperson for MIA said the long wait times were the result of increased air traffic and a lack of staff.
“Wait times at airport security checkpoints are the result of staffing levels at US Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration in response to airport passenger traffic. CBP and TSA have informed us that they have both reached their maximum staffing capacity at the MIA,” the airport said in a statement.
The airport also noted that MIA recorded the highest seat capacity growth of the world’s 20 largest airports when comparing March 2019 (pre-pandemic) to March 2022, according to data from the Official Airline Guide. MIA’s seat capacity increased by 17% to 2,748,879 during this period.
In 2021, 37.3 million passengers passed through MIA.
Airport officials said passengers can significantly reduce their wait times by signing up for expedited screening services such as TSA PreCheck, CLEAR, Global Entry and Mobile Passport Control.
MIA made a comeback after the pandemic slowed – in November the airport recorded its first month of passenger growth in 19 months, registering 3.9 million passengers in November 2021, compared to 3.7 million in 2019.
Record-breaking spring break trip through MIA
Spring break travel also boosted passenger traffic — and wait times — at the MIA. On Sunday, March 20, 168,000 passengers passed through MIA, making it the airport’s busiest travel day on record. Record crowds have prompted airport officials to recommend travelers arrive three hours before a domestic flight and 3.5 hours before an international flight.
Fort Lauderdale has seen increased air traffic due to an expansion project in 2014 and an increasing number of flights from discount carriers like Frontier and Spirit.
“Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is one of the fastest recovering U.S. airports, serving 28.1 million passengers in 2021,” an FLL spokesperson said. “However, as travel continues to rebound, wait times for TSA and CBP processing at FLL may vary depending on staffing levels, peak periods and scheduled flight changes, among other factors. .”
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