Catching a Flight at MSP? Better Arrive Early

Reports this week of crowded TSA security check-in lines have travelers frustrated, some of whom have reportedly missed their flights. MSP International Airport officials are now urging travelers to arrive two-and-a-half hours ahead of their scheduled departure—at least through April. So if you are planning a trip, add more airport time to your itinerary.

Travel is up to nearly record levels; airports are crowded to be sure. But another reason some security lines are growing is due to airlines scheduling many of their flights during specific periods of the day when passengers like to travel, such as early in the morning. According to a report in the Pioneer Press, federal staffing changes have also closed some security checkpoints—down from six permanently open checkpoints at Terminal 1, for example, to just five at peak times and three open checkpoints at other times of the day.

While travelers may not be able to avoid security, they may be able to avoid the lines. Now might be a good time to sign up for a program called TSA Pre✓.  Available at more than 100 airports across the country, the program allows passengers to be screened before they even arrive at the airport. After you apply online here (or in person at an application center) pay a $85 fee, and receive final approval (which is taking a couple of weeks), you will be able to enjoy a faster and easier travel experience.

One you are approved, you will be part of the program for five years. Each time you travel, you will notice the TSA Pre✓ indicator right on your boarding pass, which will work if you are traveling on nine participating airlines, including Delta. The pass enables you to skip the long security lines and pass directly to the screening areas designated strictly for pre-screened passengers. So if you’ve been stuck in the winding slow lane and watched as travelers walk directly through short lines, that’s what they are doing. While I haven’t applied for the TSA Pre✓ yet, I think it sounds like a smart idea. You can keep your shoes on, the laptop can stay in the bag, and if you want to keep your jacket on through the line you can do that too. You don’t even have to take your belt off.

If you travel more than just a couple times a year, it might be worth it to look into pre-screening. I hate the feeling of being put through the ringer before I’ve even boarded a plane. Happy travels!