For anyone who flies regularly, long security lines at airports are a painful norm. But with more of us traveling by air — especially with the upcoming summer season — we can expect things to get worse before they get better. At airports throughout the nation, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been grappling with ashortage of agents to deal with the influx of passengers, which has resulted in incredibly long lines that have forced passengers to endure hours-long waits or even miss their flights.
Just how bad has it become?In 2016, in Chicago, 450 American Airlines passengers couldn’t make their flights due to security wait times. American says 6,800 of its passengers across the U.S. missed flights during the week of March 14-20. It was so bad that American Airlines announced it wouldhire security staff at its major hubs to relieve TSA agents from nonessential duties.
Besides an increase in travelers and a decrease in personnel — due to budget cuts and other missteps—the TSA said more carry-on bags at security checkpoints and more robust screening have also contributed to the long lines. “Individuals who come to the TSA checkpoint unprepared for a trip can have a negative impact on the time it takes to complete the screening process,” the TSA said, in a press release. The TSA is working on remedying the problem, however. It plans to hire more than 700 agents, increase overtime, introduce new technologies, and utilize bomb-sniffing dogs.
But the TSA isn’t entirely to blame. Aging infrastructure of existing airports aren’t able to handle the increasing number of passengers. And then there are situations that are completely out of anybody’s hands, such as weather and computer glitches, which severely impact airport operations. (If you are affected by cancelations, we have tips on what to do.)
Tamur Goudarzi Pour, Lufthansa Group’s vice president for the Americas, told Digital Trends that there isn’t one airport that’s not going through some kind of construction. The company is looking into ways technology could help alleviate some of these pain points. It recently tested biometric technology at its gate at Los Angeles International, where 350 passengers successfully boarded an Airbus A380 in less than 30 minutes, using just facial recognition — from gate to seat. Working with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the technology could one day extend all the way to security, not just at the gate. But that’s still far off in the future.
Until then, some experts recommend you just stay calm and carry on, but it doesn’t help when you’re still stuck in line and you have to board a plane in the next half-hour. The key, experts agree, is to prepare beforehand. By following a few basic tips, you can easily beat your fellow passengers to the finish line.