How to Stay Hassle Free at PDX This Holiday

Five tips to help you find the fastest way through PDX this holiday season.

By Kasey Cordell, Eleanor R. Brown, and Sara Gates November 19, 2012


More than a quarter million people will filter through PDX this week, according to Portland International Airport officials. Which means that some airport headaches are unavoidable: long lines at the coffee shop, no place to sit in the waiting area. But there's wiggle room in other annoying arenas, such as long security lines. Keep sane (and make your flight) with these tips for finding the fastest way through PDX.

Tip #1 There are three “rush hours” at PDX: 5–8 a.m., around noon (“the noon balloon,” staff call it), and early evening, just after work, according to Port of Portland spokesperson Kama Simonds. Avoid long ticket-counter and security lines by booking your flight for midmorning or midafternoon. Already booked? PDX officials advise arriving two hours before your flight. (Yikes! See Tip #2)

Tip #2: If one security line is moving at Methuselah’s pace, skip over to the line at the other side of the building, Simonds says. That’s because once you’re past security PDX’s concourse connector allows you to access any gate.

Tip #3: Get your own security line. Yep, that's right. PDX's TSA’s Pre-Check program—available to passengers on Delta, American, US Airways, United, and Alaska—is a kind of pre-screening program that lets approved passengers use a separate and typically faster line. Learn how to sign up at

Tip #4 Reap the rewards for your soccer obsession … or at least your strategic shopping: any person wearing a Portland Timbers jersey gets priority boarding on Alaska Airlines flights out of Portland, says Alaska Airlines representative Bobbie Egan. Goal!

Tip #5 Don't play by the rules. When you return to Portland, have your ride pick you up in the Departures area. This upper level tends to be less congested, especially in the evening.

Filed under
Show Comments