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TSA Announces Significant Decline in Airport Screening Wait Time

According to the Department, wait time has been reduced to less than 15 minutes for 92% of passengers this summer.

The Transportation and Security Administration has recently announced that the wait time in security lines at airports nationwide has been drastically reduced. USA Today reports that measures like shifting airport and airline workers for non-security work at checkpoints – such as moving bins – and improving technology have really helped expedite the security lines this summer.

According to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, 98% of fliers waited less than 30 minutes for screening between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and about 92% waited less than 15 minutes.

“We reduced wait times this summer without compromising security,” Johnson told a news conference Wednesday at Reagan National Airport (DCA).

Seven of the busiest airports in the US have registered wait times of 10 minutes or fewer on average during the summer peak season. These improvements were made after a surge of complaints and outrage came from the public due to hours-long wait time to get through security at airports like Chicago O’Hare and Seattle during the first semester of 2016.

Johnson also mentioned that the shorter wait times are due to more signups for Precheck, and a congressional funding shift that allowed the expedited hiring of hundreds of new TSA officers. The number of passengers that have signed up for Precheck more than doubled from a year earlier, to 3.5 million. The program allows quicker movement through checkpoint lines for travelers who provide extra information and undergo a security interview.

TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said the results couldn’t have happened without the partnership with airlines and airports, contributing 600 workers at checkpoints throughout the country. Chicago O’Hare, for instance, had an average wait time of 104 minutes in May. After the number of screeners increased 20%, that wait time has dropped significantly to only 6 minutes.

The adoption of automated lanes in Atlanta also expedited the process. The airport kickstarted the first two automated lanes with Delta Air Lines and has plans to expand to at least 20 lanes before the summer rush of 2017, according to spokesman Reese McCranie.

“In July, we had the best wait times we’ve had in seven years,” he said, with 96% of travelers spending less than 20 minutes in line. “We’re pleased with the progress that’s been made. Our focus is to ensure that we have a safe environment and get passengers through the screening process smoothly and efficiently.”

[Photo: TSA]

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