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September 05, 2023

PHL boasts some of the quickest security lines of any major US airport, report says

On average, it takes just more than 9 minutes to get through the checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport, according to new data

Travel Airports
PHL wait time THOM CARROLL/for PhillyVoice

A study of average wait times at major U.S. airports found that Philadelphia International has the fourth-shortest wait time. It takes a PHL traveler just less than 10 minutes to get through security.

It may not always feel like it, but Philly's airport has one of the most efficient travel experiences in the nation. A new study says among 31 busiest airports, travelers using Philadelphia International Airport get through security faster, on average, than at all but three major U.S. airports. 

Travelers departing Philly via PHL wait an average of about 9 minutes, 12 seconds to get through airport security, according to data by travel guide PlanetWare. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has the shortest wait time (5 minutes, 6 seconds), and Detroit and Phoenix are the other two airports boasting shorter airport wait times than Philly. 

"The TSA team at PHL does a great job processing our passengers through the checkpoints quickly," PHL chief operating officer Keith Brune told the Philadelphia Business Journal. "Employing canine teams to check passengers during the busiest times helps keep lines moving and gets travelers on their way quickly and efficiently."

Over the last two years, PHL has been rolling out a new wait time tracking system at each of its terminals. Recently, the airport announced that it finished implementing the system in Terminals A West and A East after previously being launched in Terminals D and E. The PHL queue management system, which now covers half of the airport's terminals, is expected to be completed by next spring. 

The system uses a combination of video cameras and software to calculate the number of people who pass through a terminal's security checkpoint and roughly how long it takes the average traveler to get through the line. The resulting data illustrating the current average wait time is then displayed on digital screens throughout the airport and on the airport's website. PHL joins other airports like those in Orlando, Cincinnati, Dallas Fort-Worth and Denver in deploying such technology. 

While Philly air travelers tend to get to their gates relatively quickly, that doesn't mean their travel experiences are always headache-free. The same PlanetWare report also looked at flight departures, delays and cancellations and found that PHL ranked 215 out of 357 airports when it came to flights successfully departing on time. According to federal transportation data analyzed by PlanetWare, 80.6% of scheduled flights leave PHL on time. Airports in Honolulu, Salt Lake City and Seattle had the highest rates of on-time departures.