Denver airport security screening lines to see changes this week

The TSA plans to reshuffle the types of security screening lanes available at Denver International Airport’s three checkpoints this week as both try to reduce wait times during peak periods.

Starting Tuesday, two new rules of thumb apply:

  • Most travelers in need of general screening lanes will be served at TSA’s checkpoints at the south end of the terminal on Level 5 and on the Level 6 bridge to Concourse A.
  • Travelers with a TSA Precheck membership or airline premium-access status should head to the north checkpoint on Level 5 of the terminal. It will become the default option for TSA Precheck, with “multiple” dedicated lanes, the Transportation Security Administration says.

The changes are coming after TSA and DIA officials conducted “a comprehensive review of the security checkpoint operations,” according to a TSA news release. In recent months, peak screening times — especially on Sundays and during the morning on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays — have seen long general-screening wait times, with airlines advising passengers to arrive as much as three hours before flights. Often, just one Precheck lane was available.

Airport and TSA officials hope to standardize the options at each checkpoint as they make do with limited screening capacity and more leisure travelers than normal. TSA says the changes will provide more consistent options, though it could make adjustments in response to travel projections.

The north checkpoint, which has lost four of 12 screening lanes during construction, now will host most of the expedited screening options. It also will have a “limited number” of general-screening lanes, along with one new option for general travelers: a “Travel-Lite” lane serving passengers with one small carry-on bag, such as a backpack, a briefcase or a purse (roller bags won’t qualify).

Access for Clear screening members still will be available at both the south and north checkpoints.

As DIA’s terminal renovation project shifts to the next phase, construction walls are coming down in the terminal’s mid-section in the next two weeks, which should make it easier to get to all of the security screening areas.

But volume remains a problem, and DIA CEO Phil Washington recently announced a plan to squeeze four temporary screening lanes into the south checkpoint in coming months. This week’s changes could bring some measured relief, too.

“During a time of increasing passenger volumes coupled with long-term improvements to the airport infrastructure, we worked collectively to develop a path forward that benefits the entire airport community,” said Larry Nau, TSA’s federal security director for Colorado, in the release. “We ask travelers to familiarize themselves with screening options at each checkpoint to ensure the smoothest security experience possible.”

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