Monday, December 5, 2011

How long does it take to get through airport security?

You can help us find out. We've recently added an optional feature where you can enter the time of day you pass through a checkpoint and how many minutes you wait in line. Why? Well, why not! We have a bunch of submissions, and as I was waiting in security the other day, I thought to myself, man, wouldn't it be nice to build a database of how long these lines are? It would. Let's do a quick pro/con analysis:


  • The site becomes a bit more cluttered with entry boxes for these data. 
  • The site wavers from it's core mission.


  • The site can, perhaps, collect data showing that x-ray machines create longer lines (which might themselves be good targets for "evil doers") and more of a headache for all. 
  • We've had people ask us to put in a "time" field so that they can see if security is or is not being used at certain times—this is an included feature (and may show that certain machines are turned on and off at certain times of day. 
  • It will allow people who don't like wasting their time sitting waiting for planes to get a better idea of how early they have to arrive at the airport. 
  • It may attract new site users who will update the checkpoint status (which is required of all posts)
  • It might even be fun!

So, since I think the pros outweigh the cons, and had several hours to mess around with code on the plane (and, thanks to GoGo, test code live), it's in place. It's optional, but we hope you'll use it.

*NB: If you do report wait times, please report only the time from when you first got in line to when you got through the WTMD, but not time spent waiting for a secondary pat-down. If you want to note which line you went through (elite/regular) use the notes column for that.

Update: apparently the TSA used to provide this information, but no longer does (i.e. the links to that page are kaput).

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