What’s causing the long lines at DIA? The answer may be as simple as the number of TSA checkpoints

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Denver International Airport has some growing pains, they’ve been happening for years and there’s isn’t any major relief in sight.

During a news conference Friday, airport CEO Phil Washington said DIA was designed to accommodate 50 million passengers annually. In 2019, 69 million passengers went through DIA and in 2022 that number is expected to be nearly 73 million.

Washington admits that the biggest step needed to relieve this pressure is for the airport to expand the number of available security lines.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration records suggest he’s right. Denver has one of the highest daily traveler counts in the country but has fewer security checkpoints by far.

On Sept. 10, Denver passed 55,262 travelers through TSA. That ranked it as the No. 4 busiest airport in the country, above Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport but not as many as Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport or Los Angeles International Airport.

Despite having a comparable throughput of passengers to DFW, Denver has only one-fifth of the Texas airport’s security checkpoints.

Of the nation’s five busiest airports, Denver has the fewest number of security checkpoints. Hartsfield-Jackson has six, LAX has 11, O’Hare has 14 and DFW has 15.

On Sept. 10, this meant Denver had nearly six times the number of people per security checkpoint as DFW.

Denver’s rate of passengers per checkpoint is near twice the next highest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson.

This plays a role in Denver experiencing uniquely long security lines. Though other airports undoubtedly have long lines, they haven’t reached alert levels as Denver has.

Through September and October, DIA has tweeted at least eight times that it expects long security lines and that travelers should arrive for their flights two hours early – which Washington repeated during the Friday news conference.

The other four top airports sent a combined total of one tweet warning of long security lines – DFW on Sept. 3.

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