WASHINGTON, DC – Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading US airlines, commended actions the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today to address increasingly lengthy wait times at the nation’s largest airports and encouraged travelers to also assist in addressing security delays. The goal of A4A’s effort is to encourage passengers to enroll in expedited screening, allow ample time to pass security and help make TSA aware in real-time of lengthy security lines.
A4A commends Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson for taking action to expedite the screening process by increasing the number of Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) and canine teams on the ground. Airlines remain committed to continuing to work with the DHS and TSA to address lengthy wait times by urging agency officials to ensure that adequate staffing and equipment are being deployed at the airports where they are most needed. That’s where travelers can help!
“Our recently released passenger satisfaction survey tells us that the efficiency of the security process is a major factor of their overall flying experience,” said Sharon Pinkerton, A4A Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy. “The Department of Transportation’s benchmark of the maximum acceptable wait time is 29 minutes, but we are seeing lines that go 60 or 90 minutes at some major airports. That’s why we are doing everything we can to help make the process more efficient for passengers and TSA alike.”
The number of passengers has climbed for the sixth consecutive year, and the wait for many travelers at TSA airport checkpoints has nearly doubled in just the last year. Air travel this spring will rise to the highest level ever, with passenger volumes exceeding 2015’s peak by 3 percent.
A4A is encouraging passengers to do the following:
1. Get in TSA’s PreCheck Program: Enroll in expedited screening programs. Millions of travelers are taking advantage of TSA PreCheck, which typically results in faster lines and a better security experience. Passengers considered low-risk who qualify for the program can receive expedited screening either as a member of TSA PreCheck or another trusted traveler program, such as Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry.
A4A’s recent State of Air Travel survey found that those who are enrolled in expedited screening programs have a remarkably better travel experience than those who are not. While 80 percent of 2015 flyers reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their overall air travel experience, the 19 percent of flyers who are enrolled in TSA PreCheck and the 13 percent who are in Global Entry, reported even greater levels of satisfaction: 82 percent for TSA PreCheck and 95 percent (including 67 percent who were highly satisfied) for Global Entry.
2. Prepare for the line: Allow extra time even for TSA PreCheck as those lines are not immune to unexpected delays. And, please make sure you have your ID and boarding pass (on paper or on your smartphone) ready for inspection when you arrive at the TSA desk. Doing so will help move the line faster for everyone.
The check-in process is more efficient than ever thanks to kiosks and other investments, but the same can’t be said for the TSA line. According to TSA, travelers should plan to arrive at airports two hours early for domestic flights or three hours early for international flights.
Before packing, check TSA’s liquids rule and prohibited items list, and once in line, pay attention to what the agents’ instructions about what to remove, or what you can keep on if you are in TSA PreCheck. In many airports, there are large television screens that demonstrate what you must do, so take the time while you’re in line to review the process.
3. Report long lines in real-time: Unfortunately, there is no current reliable resource allowing travelers to know what the TSA wait times are before they arrive at the airport. Instead, the TSA relies on crowd-sourcing, or real-time reporting from travelers, for information, which is only as good as the information that travelers share.
When encountering longer than usual lines, alert TSA by tweeting your airport code or location to @AskTSA along with your issue and the hashtag #iHateTheWait. Not only will this allow TSA to pinpoint trouble spots, it will also give your fellow travelers a much-appreciated heads-up.
In the days leading up to your trip and in the hours before you leave for the airport, check Twitter for your airport code and @AskTSA or #iHateTheWait to see what travelers are reporting. Retweet helpful information to other travelers you know on your trip to keep everyone updated.