Airlines Adding People, Resources to Ease TSA Lines for Memorial Day Weekend
WASHINGTON, May 27, 2016 – U.S. airlines are spending more than $10 million, adding staff and resources to help travelers get through potentially long Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lines over Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest periods for air travel all year. In addition to offering tips and asking passengers to pack their patience, Airlines for America (A4A), the trade association for the leading U.S. airlines, is encouraging travelers to help the TSA and fellow fliers pinpoint specific airports experiencing excessive TSA checkpoint delays by sharing their airport code and the hashtag #iHatetheWait on Twitter and Instagram.
To help travelers, A4A’s member airlines have also been working alongside the TSA to ensure a smooth travel experience for their passengers. These measures include:
- Hiring contractors and re-assigning airline employees to assist the TSA with non-security functions, including restocking the bins, moving bags to secondary screening and informing passengers who are waiting in line of the proper documents and procedures they need to get through the security process.
- Working in partnership with the TSA and airport authorities to develop more innovative checkpoints for a smarter and faster screening process.
- Promoting TSA Pre✓™ in their marketing materials, including measures by some airlines allowing frequent fliers to use miles to pay for enrollment. Airlines are also making space in terminals for PreCheck sign-up stations.
“The safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and we are committed to working with the TSA to ensure security screening is as effective and efficient as possible,” said Sharon Pinkerton, A4A Senior Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Policy. “This is the start of the busiest travel time of the year, and we are doing everything we can to make sure our passengers can get through security and to their flights as easily as possible.”
In 2015, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend was the fourth busiest travel day of the entire year. Last week, A4A projected that 231 million passengers are expected to fly in scheduled service on U.S. airlines from June 1 – Aug. 31, an all-time high.
With a record number of passengers expected to fly this summer, A4A believes travelers deserve better information about their expected wait time, allowing them to prepare accordingly before leaving for the airport. A4A encourages the TSA to make airport security wait times publicly available so that travelers have access to reliable information, allowing them to better prepare for their journey.
“In recent weeks, passengers at major hubs across the country have routinely experienced TSA screening delays well in excess of the 29 minutes the Department of Transportation has set as the maximum acceptable wait time,” said Pinkerton. “This is unacceptable, and we’d like to see the TSA release official wait time data by airport to help improve the travel experience for the 2.5 million airline passengers who are expected to fly on U.S. carriers each day this summer.”
In the absence of official TSA wait times, passengers can crowd-source information by posting on Twitter or Instagram using TSA’s social media tools, which they can access easily at www.iHateTheWait.com. More than 23,000 people have used the site since it went live on May 5. Twitter has been the most popular social media platform for fliers to share their experiences with more than 6,400 tweets posted so far.
A4A offers passengers the following tips for passengers to help reduce wait times:
1. Apply for TSA’s Pre✓™: Millions of travelers are taking advantage of TSA Pre✓™, which typically results in faster lines and a smoother experience going through security. Passengers considered low-risk who qualify for the program can receive expedited screening either as a member of TSA Pre✓™ or another trusted traveler program, such as Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry. Apply online at: https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply.
2. Prepare for the line: All passengers should allow for extra time at TSA checkpoints. Even travelers enrolled in TSA Pre✓™ are not immune to unexpected delays. Passengers are reminded to have their ID and boarding pass (on paper or on smartphone) ready for inspection when they arrive at the TSA desk. Doing so will help move the line faster for everyone.
3. Report long lines in real-time: When encountering longer than usual lines, passengers should share that information with their fellow travelers via social media. On Twitter, post a photo of the line, your airport code and include @AskTSA and the hashtag #iHateTheWait. Post a photo on Instagram along with your airport code, @TSA and #iHateTheWait. Sharing information will not only help TSA pinpoint trouble spots, it will also give other travelers a much-appreciated heads-up about wait times. In the days leading up to travel and in the hours before leaving for the airport, passengers can search the hashtag #iHateTheWait along with their airport code to see what other travelers are reporting about the security wait times in that location.
Airlines for America (A4A) members are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, FedEx, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and UPS. Air Canada is an associate member.
A4A advocates on behalf of the leading U.S. airlines, both passenger and cargo carriers. A4A works collaboratively with industry stakeholders, federal agencies, the Administration, Congress, labor and other groups to improve aviation for the traveling and shipping public.