Fliers have endured a frustrating few months with record-long security lines at airports around the country. At Chicago O’Hare, hundreds of people missed flights after waiting in line for as much as three hours. It’s so bad that Airlines for America (A4A), a trade group representing airlines, has created a tweet hashtag and website to encourage suffering passengers to vent (#ihatethewait; ihatethewait.com).
These have also been rough times for the Transportation Security Administration. The head of its security operations was fired last week. Meanwhile, the TSA is understaffed and underfunded even as the number of fliers is on the rise. In 2014, Congress began diverting 60 cents of a $5.60 security fee fliers pay on each flight segment away from the TSA toward balancing the budget. A4A is predicting a record 231.1 million passengers this year.
After recent terrorist attacks — and a report last year that found that the TSA missed 95 percent of fake explosives and weapons in testing — the administration is stepping up its security checks, which has slowed down the lines.
Members of Congress have asked airlines to waive baggage fees this summer to reduce the number of carry-ons. No luck; the airlines earn too much from the fees. Instead, several airlines, including Delta, have pledged $4 million each to hire contract employees who will move bins and manage lines.
And what can you do to help the lines move quickly? Avoid carrying on a bag if you can help it. Keep your laptop and zip-top bag of liquids out so you can quickly drop them into a bin. Wear slip-on shoes. Stick deodorant (as opposed to gel or aerosol) and stick sunscreen aren’t considered liquids, so opt for those. Avoid wearing metal. Know that children under 12 get to keep their shoes on at security.
Check other rules at tsa.gov. Know the TSA rules so you can glide through more quickly — that is, when you do finally arrive at the front of the line.
Send your questions or tips to Travel Editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.