Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson—Getty Images
By Alex Fitzpatrick
May 17, 2016

Welcome to the summer of hell.

Airports across the country are bracing for a perfect storm that threatens to leave travelers stuck in security lines of epic lengths. The cause? Cheaper airfare is expected to drive a record number of flyers to airports around the country, but the Transportation Security Administration has too few security screeners to deal with the influx.

Lawmakers in Washington have given the TSA clearance to hire more screeners (and pay existing ones for overtime work), but it’s unclear if the agency can ramp up in time to deal with the summer rush. Travelers in cities like Atlanta and Chicago are already reporting hours-long security lines. Some are rallying around the Twitter hashtag #IHateTheWait to vent their frustrations. Several airports have recommended travelers arrive at least three hours early for their flights, though even that may prove insufficient.

At which airports do travelers have it the worst? Of the country’s busiest airports, these are the eight with the lowest percentage of on-time departures between January and March of this year, according to data from the Department of Transportation. That metric isn’t a perfect stand-in for security delays, but if you’re flying out of one of them, it’s best to arrive with plenty of time to spare.


1. San Francisco, CA (SFO)

A line of passengers wait in line to enter the security checkpoint in the domestic terminal at San Francisco International Airport on Nov. 28, 2013.
Jeff Chiu—AP

71.82% On-Time


2. Miami, FL (MIA)

Ilvert Labrada of Plantation, Fla. waits in line with luggage at Miami International Airport before traveling to Cuba with his family on Dec. 19, 2011.
Lynne Sladky—AP

76.03% On-Time


3. Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL)

Passengers load their items into bins to be scanned as they pass through security at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Dec. 18, 2015.
Wilfredo Lee—AP

76.60% On-Time


4. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW)

Passengers waiting to speak with ticket agents at American Airlines line the length of Terminal D at DFW International Airport in Dallas on Dec. 6, 2013.
Stewart F. House—Getty Images

76.64% On-Time


5. Denver, CO (DEN)

On the busiest travel day of the year, a passenger checks the departures board in a terminal at Denver International Airport on 27, 2013.
Brennan Linsley—AP

77.21% On-Time


6. New York, NY (LGA)

Security personnel looks on as passengers wait to pass through airline security at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Nov. 25, 2015.
Seth Wenig—AP

77.38% On-Time


7. Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Passengers wait in long lines at the United Airlines terminal at LAX in the morning after a nation-wide flight stoppage on July 8, 2015.
Al Seib—LA Times/Getty Images

77.40% On-Time


8. Orlando, FL (MCO)

Passengers line up at security check points before heading to their departure gates at Orlando International Airport on Aug. 31, 2015.
John Raoux—AP

78.35% On-Time

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