How do I navigate TSA check-in lines at Austin-Bergstrom?

Passengers heading out of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport have been experiencing long wait times to get through security and to their gates.

Recently, AUS put out an alert for fliers to warn them about the long wait times. On Sunday, April 3, they processed more than 30,000 people with around the same the following Monday. This jampacked weekend follows an even busier one the previous week.

The airport linked the problem to the high number of flights heading in and out of Austin as well as staffing issues.

So let's take a look at what it takes to get through security at AUS and what passengers can do to streamline the process.

What do I need to get through security?

Before heading to catch your flight, TSA recommends going through its travel checklist to make sure that you have everything you need and are prepared ahead of time.

Before Packing

  • Liquids, gels and aerosols packed in carry-on must follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule
  • Review the prohibited items list for both carry-on and checked baggage
  • If purchasing a baggage lock, be sure to look for those that are TSA recognized
  • Tape a card with your name and contact information on your electronics

When Packing

  • Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)
  • Firearms are only allowed in checked baggage and must be unloaded, placed in a locked, hard-sided container and declared to your airline
  • All fireworks contain explosive materials and are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage
  • Pack large electronics on top layer of carry-on for screening accessibility
  • Place your 3-1-1 bag with liquids, gels and aerosols in the front pocket of your carry-on for accessibility
  • If traveling with a pet, bring a leash so carriers can be properly screened

Before Leaving for the Airport

  • Give yourself enough time to arrive at the airport early.
  • Wear easily removable shoes.
  • Passengers with a disability or medical condition may call ahead to the TSA Cares toll free helpline at 855-787-2227.

Before Entering the Checkpoint

  • Have your ID and boarding pass out for inspection. Adult passengers 18 and older must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.

Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Driver's licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized, Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver's license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

TSA says that weapon permits and temporary driver's licenses are not acceptable forms of identification. 

Beginning May 3, 2023, the TSA will be requiring those flying within the U.S. using state-issued IDs or licenses to make sure their IDs are REAL ID compliant. REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star at the top of the card.

In Standard Screening Lane

  • Remove the 3-1-1 liquids bag and place it in the bin
  • Ensure pockets are empty, including keys, tissues, currency, wallets, cell phones, etc., and remove bulky jewelry. Valuable items can be placed in your carry-on
  • Remove your shoes and place them directly on the X-ray belt
  • Remove personal electronic devices larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag and place them into a bin with nothing placed on or under them for X-ray screening. (E.g. laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles.)
  • Remember to check the bins and collect all belongings after going through screening

What is TSA PreCheck?

In addition to the standard screening line, TSA offers a PreCheck screening line. 

Once approved for TSA PreCheck, travelers can add their Known Traveler Number to their airline reservations for up to 5 years with the following benefits:

However, even with PreCheck, no individual is guaranteed expedited screening, and all travelers will be screened, says TSA.

How do I apply for TSA PreCheck?

Travelers interested in applying for TSA PreCheck can submit an online application and schedule an in-person appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting at an enrollment center. 

TSA does warn that any website claiming to allow travelers to register for PreCheck that doesn't end in ".gov" is not an official website. Legitimate online registration is allowed through or  

Travelers applying for the first time cannot pay the enrollment or application fee online. The application and fee must be completed and paid in person at a TSA enrollment center. First time applicants are not asked to provide payment information online. 

The application fee for TSA PreCheck is $85 for 5 years.

The TSA PreCheck application program is only open to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents. Documents needed to apply include proof of citizenship (birth certificate or passport) or Permanent Resident Card.

Applicants may be ineligible due to incomplete or false application information, violations of transportation security regulations, or disqualifying criminal offenses and factors.

How do I know if TSA PreCheck is available to me?

Participating airlines display a TSA PreCheck indicator directly on a traveler's boarding pass if they are eligible for TSA PreCheck based on the provided Known Traveler Number (KTN). 

Without a valid boarding pass with a TSA PreCheck indicator on it, you cannot access the TSA PreCheck lane.

TSA PreCheck screening may still be an option through the standard screening lane when dedicated TSA PreCheck screening lanes are not available.

If a TSA PreCheck lane is not available, travelers can show their TSA PreCheck boarding pass and may be able to keep 3-1-1 liquids and laptops in your bag, and shoes and light jackets on while accessing the standard screening lane. Eligible passengers should check with the TSA officer on duty.

Is TSA PreCheck available at AUS?

Yes. AUS's TSA checkpoints open at 3:30 a.m. with TSA PreCheck and Clear screening available at Checkpoints 1 and 2 West. 

In addition, a new security checkpoint near Southwest ticketing, Checkpoint 2 East, will be open during peak travel periods for all passengers going through general screening. 

All checkpoints lead to all gates and airlines in the Barbara Jordan Terminal, says the airport.

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