Problems within the TSA are causing passengers to be stranded at airports across the country. The TSA staff at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago are one of the worst offenders. Recently, 450 people flying on American Airlines out of O’Hare were unable to get to their plane due to the extraordinarily long lines at TSA security checkpoints. The stranded passengers were offered cots to sleep on by American Airlines.
One of the stranded passengers, Kevin Revis, commented on the TSA and the problem at O’Hare.
“Got here two and a half hours before my flight and security took two to three (hours) to get through.”
Videos on YouTube taken by passengers and news reporters are showing just how excruciating the wait is in order to get through the TSA security checkpoints.
American Airlines at O’Hare are not sitting idly by as their passengers are getting stranded. Over the course of the next seven days, American Airlines plans to use their employees to hopefully increase the speed of the TSA lines. These employees are not security experts so their capacity will only be in non-security roles.
American Airlines spokesperson Leslie Scott commented on the plan.
“(They will be) standing in line, telling people to take shoes off, take electronics out and bag of liquids out.”
The TSA is blaming the problem on understaffing due to budget cuts. Even though they state lack of funds as the major problem, the TSA has promised to hire up to 800 new employees in June and offer current employees incentives to work overtime. Until these new employees can be properly trained, the TSA is telling people to use their PreCheck option which is a service that travelers will have to pay for.
Travelers flying through O’Hare and other Chicago airports have been contacting the TSA offices in Chicago to enroll in the PreCheck program. The cost that travelers need to pay range from $85 to $100. Due to the large influx of inquiries, available appointments for this service are not open until months in the future. Lorraine Boyer attempted to be approved for the TSA PreCheck without an appointment. After hours of waiting, Boyer gave up and went up.
“It’s insane. It’s ridiculous. Just pay them the overtime, get more people. Do what you have to do.”
The airlines have now created the hashtag #IHateToWait, which allows travelers to express their frustration. The airlines are hoping that this hashtag will push the TSA to improve their speed at security checkpoints at O’Hare and nationwide.
— Ellen Creager (@ellencreager) May 16, 2016
Not sure how many active military we have in the US and around the world but put some of them on the TSA lines! #ihatetowait
— Grumpy Politician (@grumpypolitici1) May 13, 2016
— Kent Healy (@Kent_Healy) May 12, 2016
Politicians are now weighing in on the TSA problem. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York wants the TSA to add more security dogs. Schumer claims that by doing this, the TSA can wait times by up to 50 percent. Last week, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson urged travelers to remain calm and show patients as the TSA works on this problem. Johnson made comments to the media about the TSA problem.
“Our job is to keep the American people safe. We’re not going to compromise aviation security in the face of this.”
Congress recently allocated $34 million to be used by the TSA to pay for overtime.
What do you think can be done by the TSA to improve the wait times that travelers at O’Hare are experiencing?
[Photo by Teresa Crawford/AP Images]