My Experience at 3 TSA Checkpoints on Shutdown Day 33

Jan 24, 2019

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We’ve never hesitated to recommend signing up for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck in the past, and during the current federal government shutdown, it’s an absolute must.

On a day trip from Newark (EWR) to Miami (MIA) on Thursday, I had an opportunity to put three separate TSA checkpoints to the test. Don’t worry, I didn’t waste valuable resources just to tally up the wait — I had business at two unconnected terminals in Miami, which meant passing through multiple checkpoints on the same trip.

First, I began my day at Newark’s Terminal C. There wasn’t much of a wait in any of the lines at 5:40am, and even though there were a few dozen flyers ahead of me in the PreCheck queue — and I got flagged for secondary screening — I still managed to make it through and be on my way to my gate in 5 minutes and 22 seconds.

After landing in Miami, I walked over the Concourse D. The first checkpoint I encountered was completely closed:

I walked a few more feet to Checkpoint 2, which had about 10 passengers in the PreCheck line and a dozen or so in the regular first-class queue around 11:00am. I made it through in just 2 minutes and 18 seconds — close to a personal record, I imagine.

The situation was entirely different for economy flyers at Concourse D, Checkpoint 3 a bit after noon — the line extended beyond the regular waiting area, and didn’t seem to be moving much at all.

It did happen to be smack dab in the middle of lunch, though, with several local vendors offering free grub to TSA agents. I spotted employees handing out sandwiches at Subway not far from Concourse F:

And a group of agents collecting a stack of pizzas near Concourse G:

Concourse G itself was a ghost town in the early afternoon — while I spotted a couple agents and a contractor at the checkpoint, there weren’t any passengers passing through. This happened to be the same concourse that MIA famously shuttered earlier in the shutdown — my own flight was moved from G to H, so I imagine they’re closing Concourse G in the afternoons yet again.

Concourse H, meanwhile, had a bit of a backup in the economy queue, with 50 or so passengers waiting for screening. There wasn’t anyone waiting for PreCheck when I visited around 12:50pm, though, and I passed through in 3 minutes and 15 seconds, from the time I lined up for CLEAR to walking the rest of the way to my gate.

Even though agents are calling out at record rates, the TSA appears to be managing resources well — at least at the two airports I passed through today. Having access to PreCheck and CLEAR are what really made the experience seamless, though — I’m sure I would have had an entirely different impression after waiting in the coach queue.

For more on beating the TSA shortage yourself, see:

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