The easy (and free!) way to skip the line at DIA

Long security lines at Denver International Airport

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Denver International Airport has been making the news for hour-long security lines. With this trick, you can bypass the line and have a stress-free vacation!

I may live in Houston, but I’m from Colorado.

It took leaving Colorado to realize how unique DIA really is. For my entire life, DIA had been my normal airport. Everything I knew about airports was shaped by DIA. DIA was my version of normal.

I’ve now lived in Houston for over half a decade and have flown countless times from IAH and Hobby airports, which made me realize that DIA really is a unique place. DIA now actually makes me anxious! It’s so big, so sprawling, so busy – I can’t show up to the airport 90 minutes before departure and reliably get through security on time when I travel through there.

With the introduction of DEN Reserve, however, traveling from DIA is now stress-free. Reserve a spot through DIA security, breeze through TSA, and start your journey off on the right foot with this new, FREE program!

Fun facts about Denver International Airport

When you think of major airports in the US, you probably imagine Atlanta, LAX, Laguardia, or Newark. Maybe you think Chicago or Houston, since they’re other large cities. But I bet you don’t think of Denver International Airport.

You will be surprised to know that DIA is, by landmass, the largest airport in the United States and the second largest in the world. Why? Well, DIA is located pretty centrally in the United States and was envisioned to be a great hub for both domestic and international travel.

Seat bookings through DIA have also grown the most of any airport in the world post-COVID. For all of us with the travel bug, that just means that DIA is getting busier and busier.

Forget landmass and percentage traffic growth – how busy is DIA compared to other airports? DIA may beat out ATL and DFW by landmass, but those cities still edge out DIA for passenger traffic. Despite that, DIA is the third busiest airport in the world by passenger load.

What does that mean for you?

If you are flying to or from DIA, you need to prepare for crowds and lines. The security line at DIA has been making the news lately because it can be 1+ hour – just to go through screening!

How bad are security wait times at DIA?

I landed at DIA on a Thursday evening in mid-July 2023 and the security line literally snaked through the entire (large) main screening area and around to baggage claim. If this line was less than an hour, I would be surprised.

You can check live security wait times here but I find them to be optimistic. When I flew with DEN Reserve (more on that below!), I almost did TSA Pre-Check instead because the line was listed as only being 5 minutes long. In practice, it was probably closer to 20 minutes, which made my DEN Reserve reservation super valuable.

What is DEN Reserve?

DEN Reserve is a reservation to go through traditional security with no line!

You really cannot beat it… especially at an airport as busy as DIA.

How much does DEN Reserve cost?

Nothing! Zilch. Zip. Nada.

DEN Reserve is a FREE program to make getting through the terrible security at DIA nearly pain-free.

How does DEN Reserve work?

DEN Reserve is super easy!

3 days before your flight departs from DIA, you go to the DEN Reserve website and enter your flight information. A drop-down will appear that allows you to select a time to go through this special checkpoint. Once you make your reservation, voila! You have a 30-minute time slot to go through reserved, line-free security.

When it’s your security time slot, you walk up to the dedicated DEN Reserve line and show your reservation QR code. Once you have that QR code, you enter the basically nonexistent line and wait to pass through security.

It’s important to note that the DEN Reserve checkpoint is located exclusively at A-Bridge security and doesn’t technically have TSA Pre-Check capabilities. However, if you do have TSA Pre-Check, you get a special waiver to keep your shoes on through security.

Where is A-Bridge Security at DIA?

A-Bridge security is located on the exact opposite end of the “Jeppesen Terminal” (i.e., main check-in and security area) of the Westin Hotel. It’s on level six, which is the same level that you will check-in at. It is called A-Bridge security (or sometimes just “Bridge Security”) because it’s a direct bridge to the A terminal.

It doesn’t matter if you aren’t flying out of terminal A – you can just go down a level and catch the train to Terminal B or Terminal C!

DEN Reserve versus TSA Pre-Check

The TSA Pre-Check line was so long when I went to go through it – probably at least 15 minutes long.

You don’t get your Pre-Check benefits through DEN Reserve which means you have to pull out electronics, but that’s really the only downside. They gave me a piece of paper that let me keep my shoes on.

DEN Reserve was much faster than Pre-Check would have been.

What other airports offer reserve?

This isn’t just a DIA program! Reserve is available (as of August 2023) at 19 other airports. Check out this list to see if it’s available at an airport you’re transiting through!

Reserve a security screening time and breeze through TSA with DEN Reserve!

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