The Problem with TSA Wait Lines

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Posted in Travel Emergencies, Travel Tips, Travel Warnings, TSA Tips & Reports
travel tips for airport security

Lines at certain airports have gotten so long that hundreds or thousands of people have actually missed their flights. Recently Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Atlanta, and Charlotte, were among the worst.

This is happening even though most travelers are heeding the advice of arriving two to three hours early and having everything organized and ready to board.

Condé Nast Traveler‘s podcast, Travelogue, hosted by Brad Rickman, broadcasted on  May 20, 2106 with digital editors Katherine LaGrave and Jayna Maleri where they discuss the reasons why this is happening and what we might be able to expect in the future. Below are some of the the main points and highlights of the broadcast.

You can listen to the entire podcast here.

  1. Individual airports, many of them large with a lot of traffic, are not managing the number of screeners needed to meet the demand.
  2. Each airport has its own TSA Regional Director who reports to the larger TSA organization in Washington. The TSA workers are responsible for the screening, not the individual airlines companies.
  3. Because this has been such a prominent news story over the last few weeks, it has become an image problem for TSA.
  4. TSA has had to re-evaluate how they are handling the crowds of travelers.
  5. A website was created earlier this month where visitors are encouraged to take pictures of their long wait lines and post them to try to influence TSA to change the situation. The hashtag #ihatethewait has gone viral and causing unwanted press for TSA.
  6. Airline companies are encouraging people to complain to TSA. These long waits, missed flights, and rebookings, are expensive for the airlines companies.
  7. Often times travelers’ anger is directed toward the airlines, but it is actually TSA holding up the show.
  8. Currently there is no clear cut lines of responsibility spelled out between the TSA and airlines, meaning that if TSA causes these huge delays and added expense to the airlines, the companies have to eat that cost and deal with angry passengers.
  9. The TSA was created after 911 to deal with the huge increase in airport security and policy. However, this seems to work so much better in Europe and other countries where each airport has their own authority including security.
  10. What are the factors contributing to this problem? There are more people in general flying and tighter security due to terrorist threats and attacks.
  11. TSA should really consider how big airports in major European countries are handling security and revise their procedures. This current explosion of extended wait times, missed flights and angry passengers doesn’t seem to be happening anywhere else besides the United States.


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