Tuesday 23 January 2018

Travelling in the US? Here's how much time to allow for check-in delays

TSA delays

Statue of Liberty New York. Photo: Deposit
Statue of Liberty New York. Photo: Deposit
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

If you're flying within or from the USA this summer, make sure you arrive even earlier than usual for your flight.

This week, Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports tweeted that security wait times are so long that customers should arrive three hours before flights.

The move is the latest in a growing security line crisis in US Airports that has seen passengers venting via the #HateTheWait hashtag on social media.

Delays have been building across the US as the busy summer season approaches, with the Transport Security Administration (TSA) last week recommending two-hour check-in times for passengers flying out of airports throughout the country.

Nightmarish security lines (below) led to 450 American Airlines passengers missing their flights at O'Hare this Sunday alone, according to USA Today, with the airline having to provide bedding as a result.

The lines are so bad, airports have taken to hiring clowns (San Diego) and even miniature horses (Cincinnati) to entertain frustrated passengers.

The delays are due to an increased volume of travellers, tighter security screenings, more carry-on bags and a drop in the number of TSA officers in recent years.

In 2013, the TSA had over 47,000 full-time staff serving 643 million travellers, according to CNN. This year, it has around 42,500 serving an estimated 740m.

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 16: Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The TSA says it is working to decrease wait times by increasing staff numbers and expanding outreach efforts for TSA Precheck (tsa.gov/tsa-pre-check), the expedited screening programme that allows eligible travellers to pass through checkpoints more quickly without removing shoes, laptops or travel-size liquids.

Enrollment in the programme has fallen short of expectations.

"The best way for travelers to ensure a quick trip through the security screening process is to prepare, prepare, prepare," says the Administration's press office.

Wait times of up to two hours are still being reported, however.

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