Though the Transportation Security Administration will take steps to speed up airport screening, “there will be wait times” at airport security checkpoints this summer, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned today.
Asked by ABC News’ David Kerley if passengers should expect to wait in 3-hour-long lines like the ones that plagued Denver recently, Johnson wouldn’t rule it out.
“I hope they won’t,” he said. “Obviously, waiting 3 hours for what may be a 2-hour flight or a 90-minute flight is not acceptable.”
Johnson outlined last week what he called an “aggressive plan” to curb wait times, which have skyrocketed as more and more travelers take to the skies, even as the TSA workforce stagnates.
The plan includes swiftly hiring additional agents, increasing the use of overtime, adding canine teams, promoting TSA PreCheck, and even enlisting airlines to help with non-security tasks, like moving bins.
“Our task is to keep passengers moving, but also, and most importantly, keep passengers safe,” Johnson said, adding later, “three hours is not ideal.”
Airlines, frustrated with long lines that caused passengers to miss their flight, recently asked passengers to get TSA's attention with the hashtag, #iHatetheWait:
Pre-check 350 people deep at 5:30am at ORD. #iHateTheWait pic.twitter.com/sPFzxMAZKW
— Steve Kakos (@stevekakos) May 17, 2016
Holy Crap this line goes all the way down the hall and out the doors! #ihatethewait @TSA @fly2midway pic.twitter.com/bc1j45iIqk
— Michael Bednarczyk (@mike6545) May 17, 2016
@AirlineReporter @AskTSA @fly2ohare #iHateTheWait >2.5 hr security line at O'Hare with an unused lane for "PreCheck" pic.twitter.com/E1L8XL8MoH
— Zac.In.SEA (@zacinsea) May 16, 2016
Actual chaos wall to wall in #OHareAirport. About to miss my @AmericanAir flight. @AskTSA #iHateTheWait pic.twitter.com/YY00er1W5K
— Ariel Sara (@TheArielSara) May 16, 2016
And the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, tasked with running John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports, is threatening to privatize the process of screening passengers before boarding their flight, according to a document sent from the Port Authority to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.
“We can no longer tolerate the continuing inadequacy of the TSA passenger services,” the letter obtained by ABC News reads.
More than 2 million people pass through TSA checkpoints on a daily basis, Administrator Peter Neffenger told Congress.