‘Thousands Standing Around’ – at Orlando it’s the passengers not the TSA

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This was the line during one of my recent trips through Orlando International Airport. I was waiting in the Priority Line. In the gap between my line and the other passengers are the TSAPre and CLEAR lines. The lines moved at a pace only the TSA can achieve. It took about 40 minutes from the point where I took the picture to get to the actual x-ray belt.

A few days later I was back and whilst the line was shorter, and actually moving quite well, the whole thing fell apart when the TSA moved a load of passengers from the main line to the Priority Line, just in front of me. 60 minutes that time to get to x-ray.

I completed one of the comment cards bemoaning the poor service and received a reply (!):

We have received the comment card you submitted to the Transportation Security Administration in Orlando. Thank you for taking the time to address your concern to us. We sincerely appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention.

The priority lines are arrangements between the airlines and the airport, not the federal government. Once a traveler is past the TSA Ticket and Document Check position, we strive to maintain the integrity of the line when possible. We must also balance the checkpoint lines with other travelers to keep all lines from being congested.

We would hope that our officers would wait until priority travelers were in line before they added others. At times, we do have to mix everyone.

We apologize that you incurred this unfortunate experience. I assure you that this matter will be addressed as we continue working to exceed your expectations.


Program Assistant, TSA Orlando (MCO) Customer Support Representative

I suppose it’s a step forward that I received a reply, and one appropriate to my specific issue. Also a learning point is that the Priority Lines are an issue between the airline and the airport and not the TSA. Explains why they don’t care about managing them to assist the frequent traveller.

The other interesting thing I noticed whilst waiting in line was the number of people using the Staff/Known Crew Lane. It was clear that this was really a ‘friends and family of airport/airline employees’ line. Typical amongst the interactions was one with two older people and what appeared to be their daughter. She showed her staff badge to the TSA agent and then kissed her parents good-bye, leaving them to enter ahead of everyone else. Disappointing really as I am sure that’s not what the line is for.

Overall I think Orlando was the worst TSA experience to date and if they ever let non-US nationals buy CLEAR or TSAPre, I’ll be first in line.


  1. Non-US nationals (permanent residents and citizens of some other countries) can qualify for pre-check via Global Entry. Not yet available to UK citizens but I hear that is coming…

  2. @Michael – in fact I have Global Entry, but this does not guarantee PreCheck is only, currently for US nationals. I understand resident aliens / Green card holders may get it later in the year. It’s weird that it’s easier to get clearance to immigrate than it is to get on a plane, for a non-US national.

  3. Totally agree about Orlando. It is the worst TSA screening process in the country. The longest lines. The most chaotic. We try to NEVER fly there.

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