As travelers geared up for summer travel, whether for business or pleasure, they were warned of exceptionally long wait times at airports around the country. And, in many cities, those travel nightmares came to life, as passengers missed flights and in some cases had to spend the night in the airport, all due to delays at TSA screening checkpoints. But, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for summer travelers.
In the first week of June, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that lines are getting shorter and traffic is flowing much smoother through even the largest airport checkpoints. Their research shows that 99 percent of passengers at US airports waited less than 30 minutes, while 93 percent waited less than 15 minutes. According to TSA, travelers with TSA PreCheck waited less than five minutes in most cases.
In light of the overwhelming number of complaints by travelers, airports, and airlines, TSA decided to create a new strategy for this summer. This new strategy means opening more screening lanes and increasing the number of TSA staff during the busiest airport hours. The administration is paying special attention to airports that receive the most traffic—John F. Kennedy in New York, Newark in New Jersey, O’Hare in Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Los Angeles.
“When you get reports of long wait times it has primarily been those airports,” said TSA chief, Peter Neffenger. “If you can prevent problems from happening there, you don’t have problems that cascade throughout the system.”
In fact, the most extreme case of disaster-ridden wait times was in mid-May at Chicago’s O’Hare International. Travelers were set back by wait times as long as two hours at TSA security checkpoints, which resulted in many travelers missing their scheduled flights. Trapped in the airport for the night, those passing through Chicago were not pleased with TSA’s lack of summer planning.
Neffenger realizes that the increased staff and security lanes will not totally alleviate the airport congestion this summer, but believes this is the best short-term move the administration can make. TSA researchers and executives are looking into ways to further improve airport experience and ensure travelers remain on schedule. Part of the administration’s plan for the future includes adding automated security screening technology at more than 12 US airports, but this process will require more extensive planning and a good chunk of time.
For now, remain vigilant about your home airport’s wait times. Though they are expected to remain under 30 minutes, this could change at the height of summer vacation season. For more information regarding TSA Acts, [Click Here].
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