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"Why airport lines may be even longer this summer"
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Why airport lines may be even longer this summer
By Kari Paul
With air travel hitting an all-time high and terrorism concerns complicating
the airport security process this summer, long lines at airports could cause
extra headaches for travelers.
Some 90% of Americans plan to travel this summer, according to a study of 1,300
people from Airfarewatchdog.com, and of those 84% plan to fly at least part of
the way to their destination. The travel website found interest in summer
travel is at an all-time high, up 50% from last year.
The surge in travel comes as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
announced new procedures at security checkpoints, which will require travelers
to empty all food and electronics into separate bins to be sent through X-ray
machines. The new complications could further slow the security process, which
reached "insane" heights last summer as passengers faced hourslong lines at
understaffed airports across the U.S. The agency has reportedly since
restructured, hiring thousands of new staffers. However, J. David Cox, national
president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents
TSA workers, wrote that the TSA is still understaffed by about 5,000 security
officers. He warned that under President Donald Trump's government hiring
freeze, it was unlikely the TSA could get the staffing it needed for summer
This means now is a better time than ever to invest in TSA PreCheck, said
Charlie Carroll, senior vice president of MorphoTrust U.S.A., which operates
the program. At $85 for a five-year membership, the pre-screening allows
passengers to move through security without removing shoes, belts or light
jackets. They can also leave liquids and laptops in their carry-on luggage in
the TSA PreCheck lane.
"TSA PreCheck is still the best-kept travel secret," Carroll said. "Even during
the peak of summer travel last year, travelers enrolled in PreCheck waited in
line for five minutes or less, far below the national average."
TSA said PreCheck passengers won't be affected by the new security measures.
More than three million people have enrolled in TSA PreCheck since June 2016,
according to MorphoTrust, which has tripled the number of locations where
people can enroll in the program. They even launched mobile enrollment RVs at
events around the country, allowing people to sign up at concerts and on
"If people aren't coming to PreCheck to sign up, PreCheck is coming to them,"
George Hobica of AirfareWatchdog.com said.
He argues the push to get more people to sign up for precheck is a positive
development for the airline industry. "The more people in precheck, the faster
the lines will be," he said. "We all need to help by being 110% sure there is
nothing in our pockets when we go through security."
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