Last updated: 12:38 PM ET, Wed May 18 2016

Fighting TSA Delays: How Chicago is Calling In 'Additional Resources'

Airlines & Airports | Transportation Security Administration | Josh Lew | May 18, 2016

Fighting TSA Delays: How Chicago is Calling In 'Additional Resources'

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

After speaking with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that he has secured “additional resources” to help lower security checkpoint wait times at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports. 

Checkpoint wait times have been excessive at both airports, but O’Hare has been hit especially hard by the delays. Recently, American Airlines had to bring cots into the terminal to accommodate some 450 fliers who missed their evening flights because they were delayed at understaffed security checkpoints. Some of these fliers said that they had arrived at the airport almost three hours before their flight was scheduled to leave and they still were not able to arrive at the gate on time. 

Aviation trade group Airlines for America has suggested that passengers arrive at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international flights. DOT guidelines, however, say that checkpoint wait times should not be longer than 30 minutes.   

READ MORE: Video Shows Insane TSA Line at Midway

Emanuel said that asking the government to intervene was a necessary step because the situation has become so bad. “The TSA wait times at Chicago's airports have been unacceptable. There is no excuse for passengers to wait in line for hours. The resources we have secured are an important step in providing needed relief for the traveling public, as well as ensuring the safety and security of our passengers.” 

What are the additional resources that Emanuel has been promised?

TSA has committed to taking steps that will reduce wait times at both O’Hare and Midway. 100 agents will be moved from part-time status to full-time. They will be deployed at checkpoints during peak hours to help with the additional passenger traffic. 

58 additional agents will be moved to Chicago’s airports over the next 21 days. The agency has promised to add “nearly” 250 agents by the middle of August. Five additional explosive sniffing dog teams will also be deployed soon. These canine units should be able to significantly increase the number of fliers who can be moved through an expedited screening process. 

READ MORE: Port Authority Threatens To Replace TSA

TSA has also already sent a team of experts to Chicago to assess the situation and make further recommendations about how the agency and the airport can decrease wait times.

According to a release from Chicago’s Department of Aviation, the discussion about the problem of wait times at TSA checkpoints is not a new one. The city has been pushing for something to be done for some time now. They claim that there have already been “months of discussions between city and federal officials on the need for more effective staff allocation at security checkpoints, the need for additional hiring and an increase in enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program.” 

Other airports will be watching Chicago’s hubs to see if TSA is really capable of solving this problem. If wait times in Chicago are still being measured in hours after these steps have been taken, more drastic solutions might be called for. 


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