Travelers flying out of Chicago just can’t catch a break. With increasingly long lines to get through security at the city’s airports, many travelers have been missing their flights, and some ended up sleeping at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday.
American Airlines put out cots for fewer than 100 travelers who missed their flights Sunday night due to the long lines at TSA security checkpoints.
Adrian Petra said he missed his flight after standing in line for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The TSA has been urging passengers to get to the airport at least two hours early for domestic flights, and three hours early for international flights. However, some passengers have said that is not enough time to get through security and still make their flight.
American Airlines said some 4,000 passengers have missed flights at O’Hare since February because of the long wait times.
The TSA has blamed the long waits at security on a shortage of screeners, due to federal budget cuts. The agency also has said airlines are seeing record travel volume, meaning more passengers in lines.
American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott sounded off on the security issues.
“We are frustrated. We know our passengers are frustrated, and our employees are really frustrated,” she said.
Scott said, on Sunday alone, American had to delay 30 flights, and about 450 passengers missed their flights due to the security lines.
Nearly 800 people missed American flights from O’Hare in the last week alone, the most of any airport where American operates.
Lines have been so bad at Terminal 3 in the mornings and afternoons that American Airlines workers have removed some kiosks to make room.
Scott said the company plans to hire people this week to try to help reduce the excruciatingly long waits for security.
“We will be hiring employees who will do non-security TSA functions; so, the people who tell you to take the liquids out of your bags, take your laptop out,” she said.
American Airlines said passengers who get through security but miss their flights will be rebooked for no charge.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged the TSA to increase the number of dogs at security checkpoints. He said they could cut wait times in half.
The head of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the TSA, said it will immediately increase the use of overtime and work to bring in more security officers.
The TSA also has been urging travelers to enroll in its Precheck program, or other similar programs, which can significantly reduce wait times.
SOURCE: CBS Chicago