Divestitures = Delays

The bottlenecking that occurs around checkpoint security has driven passenger complaints over the course of the last 15 years. Increased security wait times have forced travelers to relegate important travel items to their checked baggage or risk missing their flights.

According to analysis by the IATA CoF Committee, a meaningful portion of the inefficiencies at these checkpoints is attributable to the number of divestitures passengers are required to make before passing through security. The figure below highlights two of the largest contributors are the removal of electronics and liquid restrictions. Combined these restrictions account for 23% of all airport checkpoint delays. 

Current guidelines allow passengers to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in carry-on luggage.  Individual liquid containers are restricted to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less. However, the quart-sized bag must be removed from carry-on bags and screened separately. Likewise, when it comes to electronics, anything larger than a standard size laptop must be screened separately.

While these practices have been the norm for a while and passengers have acclimated to some degree, passenger traffic has grown over 20% from 2003 to 2014. Assuming passenger traffic continues to grow in the future, the existing guidelines will become unsustainable and will lead to increasingly long wait times.


Attribution analysis of airport checkpoint delays (%)

Source: IATA CoF Committee