TSA Hires Officers, Shifts Dog Teams to Shorten Lines
I consider myself a frequent business traveler, but even I was shocked when I descended the escalator to the security area at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last month. The entire winding queue was full and an overflow area had been set up to accommodate more travelers. My first thought was, “I’m glad I got here early.”
Now that the summer travel season is in full swing, many people are experiencing firsthand what others have been talking about for months: long lines. TSA successfully petitioned Congress this spring to reverse its decision to cut 1,700 people from its workforce and has hired 800 new officers, but it’s still taking some time to get up to speed.
The combination of greater scrutiny by TSA officers and increased travel has created bottlenecks in Minneapolis, Seattle-Tacoma, Atlanta, and Chicago, among others. To shorten lines, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger has deployed teams to these airports and placed explosive-detection dog teams on the regular security lines. This will allow travelers, after they have been sniffed and cleared, to use the expedited PreCheck lines.
Travelers who are in PreCheck are allowed to keep their shoes and light jackets on, and leave their laptops and three ounce bottles of liquids in their bags as they proceed through the security process.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., head of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, has met with Neffenger to talk about how to increase efficiency while maintaining security. “I think we have seen some improvements,” she said. “It was completely unacceptable what we were seeing before.”
Still, long waits are expected to plague the nation’s airports through the rest of the summer. TSA advises travelers to arrive two hours ahead of their flight time for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights.
If you fly even once during the summer and once each year, PreCheck is a good idea. It’s $85 and the pre-authorization is valid for five years. It may feel like that long if you choose to ignore this warning and take your chances in the regular line. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Have you experienced these long security lines? Or have you learned the joys and benefits of PreCheck? Let us hear from you. Leave your stories in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.
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